Event Details


Event description: Held on Zoom, click here to register.

Discussant, Nina Felshin (editor of But Is it Art? The Spirit of Art and Activism)

Concurrent with the explosion of homelessness in the 1980s, conceptual artist Hope Sandrow began volunteering at the Catherine Street Family Shelter in Chinatown in 1987. While making art and producing a resident-written newsletter, she learned that homelessness resulted from poverty and a host of other conditions, such as job loss, domestic violence, racial and sexual discrimination, illness, and injury. Witnessing the appalling reality at the shelter, where women were often sexually violated, resonated with Sandrow’s own experience of sexual abuse. In the early 1990s, Sandrow began the Artist & Homeless Collaborative (A&HC) at the Park Avenue Armory (renamed Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in 1996), which houses women over the age of forty-five. Attempting to close the gap between art-making and social action, Sandrow visited the dormitory, invited each woman in residence individually to participate in collective art making with art professionals, and explored the transformative potential of art in public and private life. While shelter residents were often deprived of their privacy and identity, the A&HC helped to heighten self-esteem in its residents, resulting in some successfully getting out of the shelter system. By 1994, the A&HC involved a hundred or so professional artists and 2,000 shelter residents. Part of the A&HC artworks are on view at the New York Historical Society, Art for Change: The Artist and Homeless Collaborative exhibition (Dec. 3, 2021–Apr. 3, 2022).

 Sandrow will discuss her project with Nina Felshin, the editor of But Is it Art? The Spirit of Art as Activism (Seattle, WA; Bay Press, 1995).

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar