Art Feeds

Meg Bourne was an introvert as a child in Joplin, Missouri. Art class, she says, was the one place where she felt safe exploring. Years later when Bourne was volunteering in a behavioral disorder classroom in Joplin, she helped another young introvert: a boy whom she’d discovered wasn’t being fed. She got him nourished and got him to open up, through art, to exactly what trauma he experiencing at home.

The experience led Bourne to launch the not-for-profit organization Art Feeds. She and a team of volunteers began visiting Joplin elementary schools once a week for 30- to 60-minute art therapy programs for traumatized students.

Then came the tornado.

In May 2011, a ferocious twister tore through Joplin destroying schools, homes, business, and claiming 158 lives, including two students in Bourne’s program. Art Feeds responded with a unique initiative called Restore Joplin. It asked Joplin children to create either a building they wanted the new Joplin to have or a building they wanted to be rebuilt from the old Joplin.

“They blow me away every day with their creativity and their passion,” says Bourne, now 22. “You might assume that kids would just want to rebuild their own houses, but these kids rebuilt their neighbors’ houses and hospitals.” Once the students finished their drawings, their peers voted on their favorites, and the drawings were built from cardboard boxes, paint, and craft supplies. “This was their only way to rebuild Joplin,” Bourne says.

Students created this sign to welcome people to their new Joplin. Click through to see the other creations.

The Tornado's Aftermath
The devastation in Joplin on May 22, 2011, minutes after the tornado hit.
More Devastation
St. Mary’s Catholic Church and School in Joplin just a few hours after the tornado hit.
Wounded Hospital
St. John’s Hospital after the tornado hit.
Wreckage
A veteran, helping with search and rescue, sits amongst the devastation the day after the tornado.
Class Is In
Meg Bourne working with students at Irving Elementary’s temporary facility, Irving Elementary was completely destroyed in the tornado, as were the neighborhoods of students and teachers.
To Work
Students at Irving Elementary working on their drawings.
More Hospitals Need Water Slides
An Irving Elementary third grader sketched a restored St. John’s hospital complete with a water slide for “all the healed patients leaving the hospital.”
Air Support
An Irving Elementary third grader drew a restored St. John’s hospital and chapel, with a new “high powered” helicopter.
Restored Home
An Irving Elementary fourth grader drew his rebuilt home which was lost in the storm.
Reimagined Home
An Irving Elementary second grader sketched her dream home restored and a new Cunningham Park.
From Memory
An Irving Elementary second grader sketched Irving just as he remembered it.
Two New Pools!
An Emerson Elementary second grader drew his new school with a brand new play area including two pools.
Old School
An Emerson Elementary third grader sketched her school before the disaster.
New School
An Irving Elementary first grader sketched a new Irving Elementary School and playground.
Walmart
An Emerson Elementary fourtth grader created a design for a new Walmart, which was destroyed.
Kingdom Rebuilt
An Emerson Elementary second grader drawing a new Burger King.
From 2-D to 3-D
Students bring the Joplin that they drew to life with cardboard boxes, paint, crayons, and pool noodles.
Joplin Reimagined
The students recreated St. John’s Hospital, Joplin High School a.ka “Hope High,” and a restored Cunningham Park.
School's Back In
A restored Irving Elementary by Mrs. Mascher’s kindergarten class.
Touring "Rebuilt" Joplin
The students of Mrs. Moore’s Kindergarten Class look at the Joplin they created.
From School To "Club"
An Irving Elementary student’s rebuilt school which they named the “Irving Club.”
Housing Complex
Third graders designed and built an apartment complex “for everyone in Joplin that lost their home.”
Wacky Fun House
Third graders designed a “Wacky Fun House” where “kids can go to be happy if they feel sad.”
More Than An Apple For The Teacher
Irving Elementary first grade teacher Mrs. Benfield’s restored house as designed by her daughter, brought to life with the help of her classmates.
Meg Bourne
Art Feeds founder.
"I, Reememder Win The Tornado..."
An Irving Elementary first grader drew what he experienced when debris overtook a family member protecting him from the tornado.

Youngest Victims Of Joplin, Missouri, Tornado Rebuild Their Ravaged Town (With Water Slides)

In May 2011, a ferocious twister tore through Joplin destroying schools, homes, business, and claiming 158 lives. Meg Bourne’s Art Feeds program helped the youngest victims rebuild their lives. Literally.

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