DATE:  October 19, 2007       
CONTACT: Carole Peterson 361.825.5966; or Steve Paschal 361.825.2336

‘Heart Gallery of South Texas’ Photo Exhibit Gives Hope to Difficult-to-Place Children Seeking Adoptive Families
A&M-Corpus Christi Students Donate Writing, Photo Skills to Project

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The dozens of photographs selected for display during this year’s “Heart Gallery of South Texas” reflect the hopes and dreams of children who wake up each morning wondering if this could be the day; the day that some caring family welcomes them into their home.

The third annual “Heart Gallery of South Texas” featuring photo displays of 45 children seeking permanent homes opens with a 6 p.m. reception Thursday, Nov. 1, at Jezebelles at the Art Center of Corpus Christi, 100 N. Shoreline Blvd. The exhibition, which coincides with National Adoption Month, is a collaborative project between the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the University’s Community Outreach Office, the College of Liberal Arts, Spaulding for Children and other adoption agencies. The exhibit will be on display through November.

“This is truly a life-changing project for the children who are featured in the Heart Gallery and those of us who are involved in producing the exhibit,” said Carole Peterson, director of Workforce Development at A&M-Corpus Christi and the adoptive mother one of 12 children who found a home as a result of the first Heart Gallery of South Texas. “I am amazed at the talent and dedication of the photographers and writers from our College of Liberal Arts who have put their hearts and souls into this project.”

The photos were taken by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi photography students Jennifer Arnold and David Fuentes. The public is invited to visit the Jezebelles during regular business hours to view the pictures and learn about the children through brief biographies written by A&M-Corpus Christi students.

“This is not an exhibition about me and my photography, but an exhibition about the children,” said Arnold. “I am blessed to have been a participant with this project. Using my skills as a photographer to educate our public regarding the overwhelmed and under funded foster care system is an extraordinary experience.”

In order to capture the children’s vitality, Arnold read biographical sketches written by Joseph Buttery, Jade Love and Meghan Puckett, students in Dr. Diana Cardenas and Dr. Charles Etheridge technical and professional writing class before putting the children in front of the camera.

The “Heart Gallery” highlights children who are considered more challenging to place because of their age or because they are part of a sibling group that wants to be placed together. Visitors can view framed 12” by 16” photos and read a short biography of each child. Prospective families can then learn more by contacting Rosie Pena with Child Protective Services at 361.660.2219.

The Heart Gallery exhibit was founded by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department in 2001 as a way to call attention to foster children in protective custody, who are awaiting adoptive families. This year, there are galleries being held all across the country, including Houston, Dallas and Austin.