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Celia Center Arts Festival Celebrates the Voices of the Adopted and Fostered

THE CELIA CENTER ARTS FESTIVAL TO TAKE PLACE APRIL 12-13 AT HIGHWAYS PERFORMANCE SPACE

PROGRAMMING INCLUDES PERFORMANCES – INCLUDING ONE BY CELIA CENTER FOUNDER JEANETTE YOFFE –
A WRITING WORKSHOP, CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES, AN ARTISTS’ PANEL, AND A GROUP ART EXHIBITION

CELEBRITY BOOK READING FOR KIDS WITH PROFESSIONAL TRACK ATHLETE AND OLYMPIC TRIALS QUALIFIER STEVEN BENEDICT

THE FESTIVAL’S OPENING RECEPTION SET FOR APRIL 12, 6:00-8PM

The non-profit organization Celia Center will present its second Celia Center Arts Festival (CCAF), featuring the work of artists – from diverse backgrounds and across many mediums – who use creative expression to explore their personal experiences as individuals who were adopted and/or in foster care. There will be performances, readings, workshops, an artists’ panel, children’s activities, and a multi-media art exhibition. Titled “Adopting Resilience, Fostering the Spirit of Creativity: The Voices of the Fostered and Adopted,” CCAF takes place Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13 at Highways Performance Space, which is a co-presenter of the festival in partnership with Celia Center (1651 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA, 90404).

Celia Center was founded in 2012 by Jeanette Yoffe, a child therapist with a special focus on adoption and foster care issues. She was driven to do so because of her personal story of moving through the foster care system and being adopted. She also wanted to merge her previous career in the arts as a dancer and actress with the cause about which she has become so passionate. Celia Center brings members of the adoption and foster care constellation together through adopt salon support groups, workshops, and events throughout the year.

The festival kicks off April 12 at 6:00PM with the opening reception for CCAF’s visual art group exhibition, curated by artist and adoptee Nicole Rademacher. This free, public reception goes until 8PM, and the show remains on view through April 28. All works in the show are by artists who were adopted and/or in foster care.

Festival programming includes evening performances of “Voices from the Past to Present” at 8PM each night, “Writing the Unsaid,” a writing arts workshop at 4PM on Saturday 4/13. These events require tickets to be purchased: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/celia-center-arts-festival-2019-tickets-51995221106

“Voices from the Past to Present,” organized by playwright and actor Brian Stanton, is a 90-minute compilation of narratives, poetry, spoken word, and theater pieces. Highlights include Celia Center founder Yoffe’s performance from her play “What’s Your Name, Who’s Your Daddy,” which recounts her childhood in foster care and adoption by a Jewish family in New York, exploring the search for self and the importance of family. There will also be a reading from Susan Harris O’Connor, who wrote the groundbreaking book The Harris Narratives: An Introspective Study of a Trans-racial Adoptee, an autobiographical monologue about her experience, delving into race, identity, emotional intelligence, child welfare and more.

Of “What’s Your Name, Who’s Your Daddy,” Yoffe says, “I did this play years ago for social workers, and that inspired me to become a foster care social worker-psychotherapist. I feel compelled, more than ever, to share this with children and families I have worked with to help them understand the feeling, from a child’s point of view, of being in foster care on a whole different level, other than lectures, books, and therapy, and that’s through the magic of theatre.”

“Voices from the Past to Present also features: Rock Wilk (“The Book of Judith”); Julayne Lee (“Not My White Savior”) with performance artist Kayla Tange; and Jerri Allyn, reading a letter she wrote to the biological son that she found. The 90-minute “Writing the Unsaid” healing arts writing workshop is facilitated by author, activist, and Korean adoptee Julayne Lee.

Other programming highlights – which are free – include children’s activities from 12-3PM on 4/13. Among the highlights are a celebrity book reading at 1PM with former foster youth and now professional track and field athlete and Olympic Trials Qualifier Steven Benedict, who has run in some of the world’s most prestigious events. There is also a book giveaway, Face Painting, Virtual Reality painting with Google Tilt Brush, and a Healing Arts Table for children in foster care and/or adoption and their families (ages 4 and up). For the grown-ups on 4/13 (6:30-7:30PM), there will an artists’ panel and Q&A, “Sharing their Vision, Transforming their Pain,” moderated by curator and museum director Rebecca Trawick. For the complete CCAF schedule: https://www.celiacenterartsfestival.org/exhibits-performances/

Yoffe’s hope is that CCAF will give the Foster Care and Adopted constellation an opportunity to deepen the conversation regarding it in Los Angeles and around the world. With CCAF, she includes voices that are often left out of the dialog – and shines light on the lifelong process of pursuing wholeness that begins with the primal wound of separation. Yoffe named Celia Center for first mother Celia – as an adult, Yoffe was able to travel to Argentina for a reunion with her. Rademacher also met her birth parents.

“Our goal is to bring the constellation together so we can validate the foster and adoptees’ experience, honor the first mother’s experience, and educate adoptive and foster families – as well as professionals – about the experience, in order to gain clarity, ultimately heal, and become a force together,” says Yoffe.

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www.celiacenter.org

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