By Beth Treffeisen
Inside the apartments at 82 Green Street, a supportive housing facility, located in Jamaica Plain, artwork and colorful crafts line the walls transforming an otherwise dull space into a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Many of the pieces that fill up the walls are made as part of the Pine Street Inn Art Program that enlists local artists to lead art workshops at emergency shelter and housing sites.
“I’ve been part of the art program from the beginning,” said Christine, a resident of Green Street who asked that her last name not be used, “I love it!”
These weekly classes are a way for many guests and tenants to connect with each other, build self-confidence and social skills, and gain a much-needed respite from the stresses and isolation of homelessness.
“It’s really nice to see an array of complimentary things that really help people struggling with a number of different issues,” said Claire Daves-Frishman the communications manager for the Pine Street Inn.
The Pine Street Inn serves more than 1,600 homeless individuals daily. They help individuals move from the streets and shelter to a home and assists formerly homeless individuals in retaining housing.
Their services include street outreach, emergency services, supportive housing, job training and connections to employment. The art program is only one of the many volunteer positions held at the Pine Street Inn.
Right now the program has been put on hold as they look for more volunteer artists to teach the classes.
“The intent is there but we are a very large organization and we are very resourced strapped,” said Daves-Frishman.
The past classes have included various mediums from collaging, drawing, painting, and arts and crafts. Daves-Frishman said it really depends on the artist that steps up.
“It’s good, it keeps us occupied,” said Christine. But recently since the classes have not been happening she said, “We’ve been missing everybody.”
The art program first began in 2001 by local artist Jo Ann Rothschild who decided to volunteer and teach a watercolor class at the Women’s Inn emergency shelter. After seeing the success of that class it has continued on and off ever since.
The Art Program is funded through a Donor Advised Fund from The Boston Foundation, the Tomfohrde Foundation and the Boston Cultural Council.
Christine who has been living at Green Street for about 15 years has watched the classes go from four to five to students to everyone at the house participating. Before she took part she never did art before and this has really allowed her to open up.
“They’re great for me because Saturday is a boring day and it makes it go by faster,” said Christine. “It would be very boring if we didn’t have it.”
Christine’s room is now covered top to bottom with rotating collages that she makes from magazines clippings, a few drawings and poster boards.
Recently, Christine had some of her pieces sold at SOWA, the South End Open Market and she was able to receive the money from the artwork sold.
“It makes me feel good when somebody wants to buy my piece of work,” said Christine.
Christine’s artwork was one of many pieces sold at the market. Daves-Frishman said that this year they sold a record amount.
“People really connect to the story behind the art,” said Daves-Frishman. “They really get why it’s important and I think that drives some of the sales.”
To find out more on how to get involved in the Art Program at the Pine Street Inn contact volunteer programs at 617-892-9184 or e-mail [email protected]