Two exhibits and six events at BMAC explore homelessness

BRATTLEBORO — Two exhibits and a series of related events at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center this spring aim to spotlight the humanity and dignity of people experiencing homelessness.

BMAC is partnering with Groundworks Collaborative to increase awareness, foster empathy, spark conversations about homelessness in the Brattleboro area, and raise funds for Groundworks.

Taking its name from the number of people who were unsheltered in America in 2018, “Steven Kinder: 522,830” is on view in BMAC's Wolf Kahn & Emily Mason Gallery through June 14.

The exhibition features portraits of people experiencing homelessness whom Kinder has met over the years in New York City.

“Kinder has been working with people on the street for years, offering compensation for the opportunity to paint their portraits,” curator Katherine Gass Stowe said in a news release. “He is not speaking for the unsheltered. He just wants to offer us a perspective on the people who have captured his attention. And after that? He simply asks us to see them.”

During the exhibit's three-month run, visitors will be asked to add $1 to their admission fee as a donation to Groundworks Collaborative. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the exhibition catalogue will also be donated to Groundworks.

This exhibit is supported in part by a grant from the Thomas Thompson Trust.

On view in BMAC's Ticket Gallery is “Coffee & Conversation: Stories of Homelessness.”

In 2015, Brattleboro artist Liz Lavorgna began working on this multimedia project in collaboration with filmmaker Wyatt Andrews and with support from Groundworks Collaborative.

For this exhibit, LaVorgna revisits the project, updating some of the original stories, introducing new ones, and documenting how the landscape has changed for unhoused people in Brattleboro in the past five years. This exhibit will also be on view through June 14.

“'Coffee & Conversation' brings together people who have stable housing and people who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness,” said BMAC Exhibitions Manager Sarah Freeman, “offering both parties a chance to look beyond stereotypes and stigma and connect as human beings, over a cup of coffee.”

In conjunction with these two exhibits, BMAC will present the six events listed below - all of them free and open to the public - that approach the issue of homelessness from a broad range of perspectives.

Attendees will be offered information about Groundworks Collaborative and invited to make a donation to the organization, which provides ongoing support to families and individuals facing housing and food insecurities in the greater Brattleboro area.

“In recent years,” BMAC Director Danny Lichtenfeld said, “we have discovered that one of the ways BMAC can be of service to our community is by presenting artwork that reflects and explores pressing social issues, and then partnering with other organizations and agencies to facilitate discussion and, ideally, problem solving.”

According to Lichtenfeld, other BMAC projects of this type have included “If she has a pulse, she has a chance,” a 2018 exhibit about addiction and recovery, and “Up in Arms: Taking Stock of Guns,” a 2016 exhibit of artwork exploring Americans' relationships to firearms.

Coming events include:

• Opening of New Exhibits, Saturday, March 14, from 3 to 5 p.m. “Steven Kinder: 522,830” and “Coffee and Conversation: Stories of Homelessness” are among the eight new exhibits opening at this time.

In Sight: What the Unseen Are Holding for Society, Wednesday, April 15, 7 p.m. This lecture by Kurt White, LICSW, will explore why we tend to avert our eyes when we walk past someone living on the street; why - from a psychological standpoint - we try not to see them.

• Curator Tour: Katherine Gass Stowe, Saturday, April 18, 1 p.m. Katherine Gass Stowe will lead a tour of two exhibits she curated: the Kinder exhibit and “Alison Wright: Grit and Grace, Women at Work.”

Homelessness: The Big Picture, Sunday, May 3, 4 p.m. Dr. Thomas Byrne, a professor at the Boston University School of Social Work, speaks about the large-scale forces contributing to homelessness in the U.S., including wealth inequality, housing shortages, housing unaffordability, and historical and sociological factors.

• No Place Like Home: Housing in Windham County, Thursday, May 14, 7 p.m. Elizabeth Bridgewater of Windham & Windsor Housing Trust moderates a panel on housing issues in Windham County.

The panel features Josh Davis of Groundworks Collaborative, Adam Grinold of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, Katie Stuart-Buckley of M&S Development, and Dan Yates of Brattleboro Savings & Loan.

• Food for Thought: Homelessness in Brattleboro, Tuesday, May 26, 5:30 p.m. BMAC and Groundworks Collaborative invite one and all to a casual supper and community conversation at BMAC, at which staff of Groundworks and others involved in addressing homelessness in the Brattleboro will be on hand to share information and answer questions.

For more information on all these events, call 802-257-0124 or visit

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