BMAC receives grant from to support project on homelessness

BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) has received a grant of $5,000 from The Thomas Thompson Trust in support of two art exhibits and a series of related events intended to heighten awareness and foster constructive dialogue about homelessness in the Brattleboro area.

In planning the exhibits and events, BMAC is collaborating with Groundworks Collaborative, Youth Services, Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA), Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, and the town of Brattleboro.

The two exhibits will be on view from March 14 to June 14, 2020.

“Steven Kinder: 552,830,” which will fill BMAC's Wolf Kahn & Emily Mason Gallery, consists of larger-than-life portraits of people experiencing homelessness in New York City, accompanied by Kinder's sketchbooks, working photographs, and paraphernalia that the people featured in the portraits gave or sold to Kinder, such as cardboard signs and collection cups.

The exhibition title refers to the number of people who experienced homelessness in the United States in 2018.

In the adjacent Ticket Gallery will be an exhibition of photographs, video, and written narratives developed in collaboration with Groundworks Collaborative called “Coffee & Conversation: Stories of Homelessness,” an updated version of a 2015 project that brought together Brattleboro residents experiencing homelessness with those who have stable housing.

“We're very supportive of partnering with BMAC on this exhibition as it shows people as people, in a beautiful way,” said Groundworks Collaborative Executive Director Joshua Davis in a news release. “All too often, people who experience homelessness are overlooked - or worse, looked down upon. This exhibition seeks to highlight people and their stories with dignity.”

“Over the past four years, BMAC has found that one of the ways we can be of greatest value to our community is by presenting artwork that serves as a platform for the exploration of important social issues,” said BMAC Director Danny Lichtenfeld. “Projects like these deepen BMAC's connections within our community, and they allow us to serve as a center of discussion and creative solution-making.”

Susan T. Monahan, trustee and grants coordinator for The Thomas Thompson Trust, said, “It is clear that (Brattleboro) is grappling with the increasingly complex issue of homelessness... This series of exhibits and events will raise awareness, increase empathy, and inspire a constructive dialogue around a difficult issue affecting everyone in the community.”

A year ago, The Thomas Thompson Trust funded the BMAC exhibit “If she has a pulse, she has a chance,” a collection of photographs and essays about addiction and recovery by Michael Poster.

That project led to BMAC and Poster being recognized by the Vermont Association for Mental Health, Addiction, and Recovery with the Jack Barry Award, given annually to individuals and organizations who have effectively communicated about the value of recovery from addictions and mental health conditions.

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