(Slideshow by Cat Trudell, Photos by Deborah Cardoso)
By Alexandra Venancio
Two large abstract paintings decorated the plain white walls of the busy Cambridge Health Alliance waiting room in Assembly Square.
The Art Connection has brought art to public places around Boston for more than 20 years. It was founded by artist Fay Chandler, a sculptor and painter whose vision was to connect the community through art. Her idea was to donate artwork to organizations throughout the Greater Boston area that do not have funds to purchase art. Since 1995, the organization blossomed tremendously and has placed 7,525 pieces of art throughout the area in more than 400 agencies.
“Art Connection plays matchmaker between donors and receptors,” said Executive Director Susan Collings. “Donated art comes in all forms. It ranges from acrylics to oils, to silk screens and sculptures.” Artists and art collectors are encouraged to donate art through the Art Connection website portal which is reviewed by the program manager.
Screening Process to Get Art
Chanel Thervil is the acting Program Manager of Art Connection. Her job is to review applications from social service agencies (homeless shelters, Department of Mental Health, youth services, etc.) and to compile a selection of 250-300 pieces of art that would be the most suitable for a particular community.
The criteria for art placement? Eligible recipients must be an organization that serves the community and does community service, but are without a budget to buy art.
Artists for Humanity is a participating organization in the Boston area that hires urban teens to contribute to their communities through art and design. Susan Rodgerson, Founder of Artists for Humanity, has been working closely with Art Connection since the late 90’s. “It’s a wonderful organization. It’s a great way to keep art alive in the communities,” says Rodergson.
Teen Artists Get Connected
Teens from Artists for Humanity create art that reflects their surroundings and allows the community to see their voices. Art Connection searches for art that represents the placement organizations and its surrounding areas, and the partnership with Artists for Humanity really allows for the relevancy of the artwork when it’s coming from someone within the community itself.
“Most of the artists that Art Connection works with are older and established individuals who have been practicing art but the link between our teens and their art to their communities is something really great,” says Rodgerson.
“After the organization is approved, a selection committee of up to 12 people meets to select the specific art that fits best with their agency,” Collings said. “The Art Connection requires the clients to be an active part of the selection process to ensure that whether it is the day the art is placed or five years from now, the artwork will perfectly represent the organization.”
“This organization exists 100 percent on donated dollars,” according to Collings. For the past six years, Art Connection has organized a fundraising event each spring called Art Bingo. For the event, a juror selects 12 works of donated art from the past year to be won through 12 corresponding rounds of bingo games. This event raises about 10 percent of the organization’s funds.
Art Connection is located at 551 Tremont Street Boston, MA., where roughly 600 pieces (half of the available art) is stored.