Mechelle J. hopes to enlighten others through her artwork

Mar 14 2016
Posted by: The Contributor
Mechelle J. hopes to  enlighten  others through her artwork

By: Linda Bailey

Man, there are so many things I want to talk to you about, I hardly know where to start.

Well, the best place to start is knowing where I began. I started selling things a long time ago when I was working in my dad’s pawn shop. It’s just a little pawn shop in Alabama called Joe’s Pawn Shop. I kind of watched my dad to learn how to sell things. He’d always say I had such a good sales voice he was afraid I’d sell the whole store.
Selling papers is different than working in a pawn shop because people see you differently, but they don’t realize you’re just like them.

Is that idea the basis of the recent art you had published in The Contributor?
Actually, it’s from nine years living on the street. I’ve seen how people who are rich can actually work with the poor and the poor can work with the rich.

Where are you staying now?
I’m with Green Street Church of Christ and I love that place. It is amazing there. I have really great friends there. There are only three other women there, but we’re like a big family. It’s called the Sanctuary. It’s tents and tiny houses. I stay in a tent. To get into the houses you have to be there for a while and then they draw your name. But they have a clothing closet and bathrooms. My friend Maurice got a house there.

What are the houses like?
They’re like a closet with a bed in it. But, they’re really nice. They have windows and electricity and you have a key to lock the door.

Where were you staying before Green Street?
Room In The Inn, the streets, anywhere I could find safety. Cause when that snowstorm hit, I was freaking out.

Can you tell me about your experience living on the street especially as a woman?
Well, for guys, they can just grab a bottle and use the bathroom. For me, I need a toilet. Or I will fall backwards. The best way to stay safe is knowing who’s around you and knowing if you can trust the people or not. I’m good at mental warfare so I know how to keep people calm so they don’t do anything stupid.
It’s really hard for the monthly times too. When you don’t have any tampons or pads, it’s embarrassing because you have a big red stain in front of you and you don’t know what to do. I’ve had men tell me that we women have it easy. No, we have it just as hard as them. Just because we have good looks doesn’t mean it makes things better.

How long have you been selling The Contributor?
About a month now. I started when my fiancé, David, went to jail. I’ll be happy when he’s out. I feel like he’s the other half of my soul, the other half of my heart.

When will he be out?
June 12. That’s my big miracle day. As soon as we save enough money, we’re going to get married. I try to keep myself busy because if I think about him, it hurts a lot. A couple of weeks after he left, I signed up for the paper. I felt like I had to find a way to get us off the streets while he was away. I have to do this, it’s my time to shine. This is my time to rise.
That’s another thing about my artwork, I feel like God wants me to let people know that no matter how dark it gets, you have to look for that tiny bit of light, you have to make it grow and it will cover the darkness.

Tell me more about your art from last week’s issue.
That one came to me because I needed a quick draw, but I also wanted to get people’s attention about how people need to stop treating people differently just because they have more money or they think we’re just a piece of crap that doesn’t want to move on. We’re more than what people think. There’s people out there with college degrees who can’t find a job. There are people who are mothers who just went through a bad divorce and lost everything and they’re trying their best to keep their kids. There are disabled veterans who fought for our country and nobody even notices them because they don’t even talk to them. The thing is, we don’t talk to our community, and that’s where the talking in the painting comes from. It’s the fact that if we talk to each other and get to know each other and show our heart with compassion, our world would be better and there would be no homelessness.

What are your hopes for the future?
I’m planning to go to college; I haven’t really decided but I’m thinking of being an artist and someone who creates technology. When I finally get that job I’m looking for, I want to donate half of my money to people like me who have been through the same bad patch.

What would your ideal job be?
Well, right now this is my ideal job—working for The Contributor. But my ideal job is to create something that will help people.

What do you think people need the most help with?
I think a lot of people who are on the street need to believe in themselves more. Give themselves more credit then they do. When I first started out on the streets, I had no self confidence. I didn’t believe in myself and thought I was the worst person in the world. But, when I got around, basically I started seeing there’s a lot more love in the world than people know. If you can take that love and use it for yourself, you’ll mean a lot more to yourself than to anyone.

How did you learn that lesson?
Meeting other people. When I was younger, I didn’t know anything about the world, which is why I was low on self confidence. When I started interacting with people at Room In The Inn, one of them was there for me in trying to show me how to be more proud of yourself. Not just through clothes, but it’s how you put your inside self out. Show who you are from the inside basically.

Who are you on the inside?
I’m a geek, a nerd, a goth, an artist. I’m a servant of the Lord and a servant of my people.

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