Cambridge Health Alliance and Art Connection Provide Access to Art

An unititled oil painting by Jessie Nickerson on display at Whidden Hospital
August 3, 2009 — Cambridge Health Alliance, which serves Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities, is using art to create a more welcoming environment for patients, visitors, and staff and, in the process, helping The Art Connection, a Boston nonprofit, fulfill its mission to enrich under-served communities by expanding public access to original works of art.

Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) recenlty collaborated with The Art Connection to beautify CHA’s Whidden Hospital campus in Everett by installing 19 donated works of original art by 12 artists.

A committee of CHA staff and local community supporters selected the pieces, ranging from traditional landscapes to modern geometrics. CHA also organized a flea market to raise money to frame the artwork, which is displayed throughout the hospital.

“The response has been wonderful,” said Deborah Murphy, RN, site administrator of Whidden Hospital. “The works not only enhance the hospital’s physical space but stimulate social engagement in an extremely positive manner.”

The Art Connection builds connections between artists and their communities by bringing art to community organizations – clinics, youth and senior service programs, job training centers, shelters and residential programs, and more. This has resulted in hundreds of installations into scores of organizations, according to the organization, giving those who often have the least access to art direct contact in their own communities.

To date, The Art Connection has placed more than 4,100 works of art at 275 organizations.

Earlier this year, The Art Connection received an $8,400 grant from the Boston-based New England Foundation for the Arts to create workshops lead by artists in Chinatown, Roxbury, and Malden. The workshops will actively engage community residents from partnering organizations in the process of creating public art and culminate with a unique painted mural in each community.

Since its inception in 1995, The Art Connection has identified and catalogued original works of art donated by generous individuals and has supported nonprofit agencies in the selection of pieces that are meaningful to them. Within these healing environments, the original works of art provide welcome opportunities for reflection, inspiration, comfort, and hope. Organizations find that original artwork enlivens spaces and connects them to their constituents in profound ways.

Now in its second decade, the Art Connection reaches out to a diverse audience, and has become a model in other cities, including New York City and Washington, DC.