ArtMobile brings art to the people

August 19, 2011
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Where does the rubber hit the road for the Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s community outreach efforts?

Starting this summer, the answer is a Ford van, repurposed by the school’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships as the SPARC ArtMobile.

The van has been out and about in the neighborhood all summer, MassArt Community Coordinator Ekua Holmes told the Gazette. Since June, MassArt staffers have been driving it down to the Mission Hill Farmers Market at One Brigham Circle every other Thursday to run a free printmaking table for market attendees.

“We have been getting an excellent response, especially from people with children and grandchildren,” Holmes told the Gazette.

While the van looks fairly unassuming right now, Holmes said, MassArt students are planning to do a retrofit on it this fall that will give it a flashy new look and a customized interior.

The ArtMobile is planned to be an all-purpose mobile base for workshops and community projects, Holmes said. This fall, for example, it will be used as a base for a project where youths at Parker Hill Action For Boston Community Development will photograph, draw and interview community elders, she said.

She said she is open to community suggestions for other uses, from hauling recycled art supplies for local nonprofits to setting up mobile puppet shows.

“It’s like we are the Mission Hill neighborhood’s next-door neighbor—a next-door neighbor that happens to be the nation’s first public art school,” Holmes said. “We want to get people’s ideas and we are here to facilitate and help get them done,” she said.

Holmes told the Gazette the name SPARC does not stand for anything. The selection process for the name included a community survey on the streets of Mission Hill last spring. The SPARC ArtMobile’s tagline is “Igniting Art and Design in the Neighborhood,” she said.

For more information contact Holmes at 780-9765 or via the project blog, cacpartmobile.com.

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