Nonprofit commissions artwork from area homeless


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Many homeless have artistic abilities or interests

One evening, while walking down Main Street and enjoying the public art that has become prevalent in Chattanooga, Ellen Heavilon happened upon Homes, a public work by Frances McDonald, Julie Clark and Mark Making. Homes is a sculptural pillar of mosaic tiles that were individually created by homeless persons in the Chattanooga area. Ellen was so moved by the power of the art and the quality of the pieces that she was inspired to build upon the concept of ‘Home’.

Solution: Art Gallery displays and commissions works from homeless artists

Ellen realized there was much talent in the population and expanded the idea to what is now the H♥Art Gallery. With the help of her husband, Jay, the Heavilons purchased an abandoned building on the Southside of Chattanooga and renovations began in January of 2010.

By allowing people to play and dabble with art materials, Ellen was hoping to find artists that were motivated to create a marketable body of work. This idea of “creative classes” has expanded into eight art classes that are offered each week at various non-profits around town. This has shifted our focus from exclusively serving the homeless artist to including other non-traditional artists in the area that otherwise may not have the opportunity for artistic expression. We occasionally find someone who wants to take their process from creating “art for arts sake” to sharing it with others. These are the artists whose work is exhibited in the H♥Art Gallery.

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Category: Housing


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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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