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In Central Islip, art answers the question 'What is home?'

The In-Between People, a New York City-based theater

The In-Between People, a New York City-based theater and arts organization, put on a theatrical installation piece with 11 performers depicting a tree at The Home Project event in Central Islip. (July 15, 2012) (Credit: Alexi Knock)

Andrew and Cassandra Arevalo constantly struggle to pay the rent in their Freeport home.

They live paycheck to paycheck in order to help their mother pay the bills.

But earlier this year, the Arevalo family was given the chance to be homeowners for the very first time.

Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk is building a four-bedroom house in Central Islip for Andrew, 23, Cassandra, 22, and their mother, Maria, that will be completed in the fall.

“Words can’t express how I feel,” said Andrew as he stood in front of his future home. “It feels good that we’ll finally be able to live comfortably.”

Andrew said he now knows the true meaning of home and is honored that dozens of people decorated his new residence with their depictions of the word home.

On Sunday, Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk and The In-Between People, a New York City-based theater and arts organization, teamed up to create The Home Project, an event that displayed works of art from more than 60 people answering the question, “What is home?”

“We’re not looking for a specific answer, we’re bringing attention that everybody has an answer,” said Andy Yanni, artistic director of The In-Between People. “It creates a larger sense of awareness and belonging to something larger.”

The In-Between People create large-scale theatrical installations in unconventional places and their mission is to find the creativity in everything, said Yanni.

In front of the home, 11 actresses from The In-Between People performed an installation of a tree in order to answer the question of home.

“We thought this was the perfect collaboration because at Habitat we are so focused on the construction of a home in a literal sense, so this is seeing ‘home’ in its emotional sense,” said Kathryn Gutleber, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk through AmeriCorps VISTA.

In the months leading up to the event, both organizations asked “What is home?” to people all over the world and received dozens of photos, paintings, videos, puzzles and written responses. The artwork was displayed throughout the Arevalo family’s new home.

“Now it’s not just white walls, you walk into the house and get a sense of comfort and warmth,” said Cassandra Arevalo.

All ticket proceeds for the event, which raised $1,000, went directly to Habitat for Humanity, Gutleber said.

“We not only want to give people homeownership opportunities, but also support the arts and bring people together like this from all walks of life,” said Vivian Becker, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk.

The Arevalo family will be given the chance to keep some of the art displayed in their home.

“A painting is worth a thousand words and art is what separates a house from a home,” said Cassandra.

Tags: Central Islip

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