Every Wednesday, Commonwealth Land Trust (CLT) hosts an art class at Bowdoin Manor, our largest supportive housing program in Beacon Hill. The following write-up was created by Nate Williams, a Tufts University junior and development and communications intern at CLT.
Large sheets of paper drape over the small table, held in place by piles of markers and watercolor paints. A handful of residents make occasional small talk or offer compliments but mostly remain quiet, intently working upon whatever creations lie before them. Patrick Haynes, the case manager at Bowdoin Manor, peers over their shoulders while his intern, Jeanne, works on a piece of her own. “A lot of our residents are very talented but don’t have access to the resources to do artwork,” Jeanne says, allowing her pencil to drift across the page. “We started the art group to foster their creativity.”
In addition to providing a creative outlet for residents already interest in art, however, the group also brings those with little artistic experience both out of their rooms and out of their comfort zones. “The group also benefits those who wouldn’t be interested in art otherwise,” Jeanne explains. “We have people coming to the group because they are looking to develop new interests. They might be bored at the moment, or they might be lonely.” In this way, this weekly meeting also serves to bring the Bowdoin community closer together.
Finally, the art group provides one further benefit to the Bowdoin residents- according to the Bowdoin staff, such activities bring positive results to those struggling with substance abuse or other difficulties. “There’s nothing worse for depression and substance abuse than getting lost in your own head all day,” Patrick explains. “Finding some programs or activities for these guys is vital to give their days structure. An art program in the building? It’s hard to say no when it’s right downstairs.”