In a unique debut collaboration between the Howard Center Arts Collective and the Fleming Museum, Arts Collective artists have created work inspired by a piece from the museum collections. Each of the 16 exhibiting members used the museum’s online collections database to identify artwork of personal interest, from which they drew upon to create something new.
The Howard Center Arts Collective is an alternative arts program that promotes wellness, self-esteem, and dignity by ensuring that there are opportunities for artists who have experience with mental illness and/or substance use challenges to connect, create, and exhibit work. The Arts Collective is open to adult artists who have lived experience with mental illness and/or substance use challenges, via their own personal lived experience, experience with family members or friends, or through their work
In April, Fleming staff retrieved the selected pieces from museum storage and invited Howard Center Arts Collective members to view the artworks in person. Each artist spent time with their selection and was able to sketch, photograph, and view the piece from all angles. One artist chose an early hand-drawn map of the state of Vermont. Another selected a black and white ink wash of doctors huddled around a small child on a gurney.
Each artist had their own process and reasons for selecting their chosen artwork from the Fleming’s 20,000+ piece collection. Over the past several months, they each created their own original works in response to those selections, hence the title, Call and Response. Some artists have choosen to emulate the piece they chose using a different medium, style, or color palette. Others have taken their piece in a completely different direction, drawing on their Fleming selection only loosely for inspiration.
Some of the new works of art will be installed side by side with the archival pieces that inspired them, along with a 4-minute video documentary of the unique, collaborative process that brought this show to light.