Local8/10/2007

St. Francis House launches pushcart to sell guests’ artwork

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“Beacon Hill” by Carlos Priori is one of the many works for sale at the St. Francis House Art Cart. Pilot photo/ Courtesy St. Francis House

BOSTON -- Homeless artists debuted their work on the St. Francis House Art Cart July 27 in Downtown Crossing. Items available for purchase include original jewelry, handmade sculptures, Saori weavings, small paintings, and framed prints, all made by participants in the St. Francis House Expressive Therapy Program. The cart also displays fine art portfolios of larger works that are available to purchase and pick up at St. Francis House. The Art Cart is located in Downtown Crossing, on Summer Street near the corner of Washington Street. It will be open every Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through October, and will reopen in mid-November for the holiday season.

“The quality of the work displayed on the Art Cart challenges any negative stereotype about people who are homeless not having any talent or having anything positive to contribute to society,” says St. Francis House Executive Director Karen LaFrazia. “I am very proud of the artists and the staff for taking on this initiative.”

The Art Cart was made possible through the support of the Downtown Crossing Association and the donation of a pushcart from Tufts University. To ensure its success, St. Francis house will provide Art Cart participants with seminars to improve their technique, marketing, presentation, and independent business practices. Ninety percent of sales will go directly to the artists; the other 10 percent will pay taxes and benefit the Expressive Therapy Program at St. Francis House.

The St. Francis House Expressive Therapy Program provides the homeless an opportunity to express themselves through visual art, music, and writing, enabling them to feel empowered and productive. Many participants in the program suffer from physical and mental illness, so the process of creating a work of art is a cathartic experience.

Expressive therapist Linda Dolph explained, “Art externalizes an internal landscape, which is validating to the creators, reaffirming who they are as human beings with their own feelings and unique perspectives.”

One St. Francis House guest said, “It doesn’t matter if you have a home or not to create art. The art room has helped me feel good about who I am inside, not feel lost because of my homeless state.”

Located in the heart of downtown Boston, St. Francis House is the largest day shelter in New England, serving over 800 poor and homeless men and women each day, 365 days a year. St. Francis House offers innovative rehabilitative programs including job skills training, mental health and substance abuse counseling, and transitional housing, along with a full complement of basic emergency services that include breakfast and lunch, clothing, showers, and access to medical care.

To learn more about the Expressive Therapy Program, visit http://www.stfrancishouse.org/art.