When home becomes art


Channel 22 News’ Sy Becker came out to review the show.

Mary Ellen Lowney, Publisher

AIC Freshman Ryan LaFrance explains his art depicting ‘home’.

The thought of home can bring to mind a hot meal in a cozy kitchen, a chat with a favorite sibling, or a walk in the woods.

Or much more.

Students in Prof. John Nordell’s classes joined forces with homeless people at a local shelter to create a brilliant show in the Shea Library called ‘Impressions of Home,’ with photographs, paintings and multi-media pieces depicting highly personalized images of that place where one feels the most at ease and loved.

For budding artists like AIC freshman Ryan LaFrance, the project was a chance to illustrate his images of home, even while he was 100 miles away from his actual home in Gilford, New Hampshire.

“I was taking a walk in Forest Park, and it just made me think of being home,” said LaFrance. “At home, I’m out in the woods a lot.”

His contribution is a photograph of the woods in the park a few miles from campus.

Students from Prof. Nordell’s Digital Photograph I and Cultivating Creativity classes contributed to the show, which will run into early April.

AIC Visual & Digital Arts Professor John Nordell with Friends of the Homeless Director of Development Sarah Tanner.

The show is a collaborative effort with Friends of the Homeless, which also has contributions by people now living in shelter, but still thinking of home. Nordell is on FOH’s Artists Advisory Board.

All of the art will be auctioned at a show on June 5 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The public is welcome to that, running from 6 to 9 p.m.

This is the second consecutive year of the collaboration and the show. Last year’s auction raised $324 for the shelter in downtown Springfield.

FOH Director of Development Sarah Tanner was on hand for the Feb. 23 opening on campus, and said shelter artists are all a part of a drop-in art program there. She praised the show and its artists.

“These are absolutely gorgeous,” Tanner said. “Seeing them all together is just amazing.”

Nordell agreed.

“I am very excited about how the show turned out. I included some art created by clients of FOH on the same theme, so having student art and art created by homeless individuals side by side makes a very powerful statement of connection,” he said.

AIC Sophomore Nichara Condo said she feels most at home while playing field hockey.

AIC sophomore Nichara Condo contributed a powerful piece with circles and a heart in a grid that represents a hockey field.

“I’m on the field hockey team, and that’s where I feel the most at home,” said Condo, a marketing major. “When I’m there, I feel comfortable and relaxed.”

Student Elizabeth Baker stopped by to see the show, and to take a few photographs.

“It’s a good show,” she said. “I love the colors, and I love the way it’s laid out.”

AIC student Elizabeth Baker gets a close-up shot.

Nordell said the project is a strong illustration of just how varied thoughts of home can be, whether they be young adults studying in college, or others making the best of difficult circumstances.

“While it is clear that some art was created by students and other works were created by homeless individuals, with some of the art, the type of artist is not immediately evident,” Nordell said.

“I purposefully chose to not put names on each artwork, so that viewers could take in all the ideas and beauty without prejudgment based on who the artist was,” he added.