8 years old with many layers

This week, Chelsea Herzberg, HALO Center Director shares a story about a talented youth in the Kansas City Center.

8 year old Dakota unknowingly quoted a famous artist. In an interview, artist Robert Rauschenberg was asked, “How do you know when you are finished with a painting?” and Rauschenberg replied, “When I sell it”. Dakota was sharing with HALO Center volunteer, Heidi Wetzel, about the different layers on his painting. Heidi asked Dakota how he would know when he was finished with his piece. Dakota simply replied, “When I give it away.” We’ve got a young artist on our hands!


Dakota also impresses with his vocabulary and intention. When asked about his self-portrait, Dakota went into deep detail about why he chose to layer different colors and why he chose the colors he did. You can see bits of blonde hair poking out above brownish-purple paint; Dakota spent a lot of time adding detail to his shirt, face and hair. Upon what appeared to be a nearly finished piece, Dakota mixed together red, blue and a touch of black and applied as a top layer over his face and shirt.



Layers return in another work of art done by Dakota. In this piece (a quilt block to be added together with many other HALO Center youth’s blocks to create a community art piece that will be displayed throughout Kansas City) Dakota uses black material to symbolize mountains, brown for buildings that make up the cityscape and blue and purple to represent the people living within the city.Dakota has chosen to lay a striped piece of cloth on top to signify how the community quilt will ultimately bring the city together.

Robert Rauschenberg started his art career here in Kanas City at the Art Institute in 1947. Throughout his life, Rauschenberg was able to live in or travel to Paris, North Carolina, New York, Rome, Florence, France, India, China… to name a few. It is inspiring to see how art can transform your life. We can’t wait to see how it will continue to transform the life of young Dakota and many other homeless, foster and at-risk youth in Kansas City.