How ARTesia began
Michele Foster found her voice after experiencing the effects of domestic violence, choosing to sever a tumultuous marriage. Leaving her plush home in Santa Barbara she had to whisk her two young children away to find safety. This beautiful, petite blond woman from an affluent neighborhood may not be the stereotypical victim of domestic violence, but there are countless others like her. It was not until she saw the effects of abuse on her children that she found the strength to say, “NO!” and relocate to a safer environment.
She devoted three years of her life to liberating women at Domestic Violence Solutions in Santa Barbara where she was director of Art as a Healing Tool. This program, developed by A Window Between Worlds in Venice, California, uses art to help victims of trauma and domestic violence to positively process their emotions.
Michele began volunteering at various community organizations to assist victims of domestic violence. She crossed paths with artist and business woman Michelle Honles at her ceramics studio in 2006. They brainstormed names for Michele’s vision of an organization that uses art to help others find their voice. They decided on ARTesia because just like an artesian well naturally springs forth pure refreshing waters that are vital for life, ARTesia’s goal is to provide victims of domestic violence with refreshment and a renewed sense of hope and peace amidst difficult change and transition as they are in shelters, transitional housing, or outreach centers.
In 2007, among a host of volunteers, they conducted their first fundraiser and art exhibit, Take a Walk in My Shoes, held at Bell Arts Factory in Ventura. It was an eye-opening exhibit featuring shoes that vividly depict the lives and feelings of domestic violence survivors.
The proceeds from that successful fundraiser launched ARTesia into funding free workshops at shelters, transitional homes, and other centers that cannot afford therapeutic art in their budgets.
Who we are
Michele Foster, director, lead teacher, and visionary for ARTesia, is also the coordinator and lead teacher for Bell Arts Factory Youth Program where she teaches many forms of art to students with varying art skill levels. She has over 20 years of experience offering services and guidance to foster care and emancipation programs and has led groups of women and children at Domestic Violence Solutions in Santa Barbara where she implemented Art As a Healing Tool.
Michelle Honles, administrator and art teacher for 14 years, has worked with children of various ages and abilities. In 2004, she began her own company called "Art N' You," teaching fine arts to kids of all ages, painting murals, as well as creating her own art. She has been active as a board member at the Camarillo Art Center for children’s art classes and has taught at Kids’ Arts in Ventura, the Children Celebration of the Arts Program in Ventura, Pleasant Valley Recreation and Parks District, Camarillo Healthcare District, Misteca Ceramics, and at various private and public schools in Camarillo. She completed the training for Art As a Healing Tool in 2006. She is married to a supportive husband and is the mother of four creative young adults.