Articles from the Boston Compass

Compass Ketchup: Howard Art Project


The Howard Art Project

1486 Dorchester Ave

At the center of any great creative community is camaraderie and the good people who run the Howard Art Project have PLENTY of it!

Located in the spacious Howard Building in the Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester, the Howard Art Project is an artist-run studio and exhibition space founded by six members of the SMFA community in June of 2011, Since opening their doors they’ve doubled in rank to accommodate 13 artists in studio and have hosted a number of exhibitions featuring local emerging artists from the community. This past fall they launched a lecture series curated by co-director Leah Craig providing a forum for artists to engage in conversation about their practice in an academic setting.

With a special eye attuned to under-represented and non-traditional cross-disciplinary approaches to art making, the Howard Art Project is an excellent resource for current students and recent art school grads offering a supportive and constructive environment with fertile grounds for planting your creative seeds. With an open call for programming events and exhibitions year round this is an excellent place to collaborate with like-minded individuals and create and curate to your heart’s content! If you’d like to get involved hit them up with a proposal via e-mail at Howard.Art.Project (at) What are you waiting for? In the meantime, get to know this righteously rad space in the words of the wonderfully talented co-director Leah Craig!


How did the Howard Art Project come to be? When was it founded and by whom?
Six members of the SMFA community (Erik Benjamins, Christopher Ford, Taylor McVay, Joanna Tam, Jordan Tynes, and myself: Leah Craig) founded HAP in June 2011. Five of us were graduate students that wanted to exhibit our thesis work together the following spring, and we needed a host venue. Many of us had projects that didn’t easily fit within a traditional white cube gallery context, and we were all in need of studio/work space. It was important to us to find a place where we could work and show our own projects, and we were interested in showcasing other artists whose work might also be considered too experimental for a traditional gallery. When we first saw the 5000 square foot space that later became HAP, it was in total disarray — one room was actually overgrown with ivy, and to say the space needed some love would be a gross understatement. The space had been unoccupied for a period of time, and as a result, there were a number of unsavory surprises awaiting discovery (mouse pellets and chicken grease were among the worst offenders).
We were an optimistic and determined bunch though, and we saw potential. It took the filling of two trash/recycling dump trucks, a few runs to a scrap metal recycling center, countless trips to home and hardware stores, and lots of clothing ruined by sweat and grime, but together we were able to transform the space into something more hospitable to our purposes. There are now ten individual artist studios and a collective studio space, a recording studio booth, three gallery and event spaces, a common area, and two bathrooms. To date, we’ve hosted twenty-one exhibitions, and other programming including an artist residency and a lecture series.

What are some of your favorite exhibitions and events that have taken place here?
I’m generally excited about all that shows here, but if I if I had to pick a couple of favorites I’d say that Joe Joe Orangias’ exhibition “Lucky Strike,” and Victoria Shen’s project, “The Modernist Manicure” were particularly outstanding to me in that they both engaged Fields Corner — the neighborhood where HAP is located — in interesting ways. In “Lucky Strike,” Joe Joe salvaged and repurposed infrastructural objects from the Strike Lanes bowling alley (which is slated for demolition) around the corner from HAP. He transformed the objects in ways that preserved them as artifacts of Dorchester’s cultural history, and at the same time brought into question how we as viewers realize ourselves in public space.

As a resident artist at HAP, Victoria Shen, a trained nail aesthetician, recreated Modernist paintings in miniature on people’s nails. People were invited to make appointments to receive a professional manicure from her, free of charge. This provided an opportunity for people to come in and engage with her and the space in a way that is perhaps more intimate and conducive to conversation than a large art exhibition opening. Victoria created a platform for exchange and dialogue that many took advantage of, including people living and working in close proximity to our space.
This past year HAP started hosting artist talks. What does the HAP crew have in store for 2014 and beyond?
We are hoping to keep the artist talks going, and in hosting educational workshops, which we haven’t really had the chance to do yet. There are a few artists who are tentatively planned to speak in the New Year, and once we have the dates settled, that information will become public. We are also accepting proposals!

We are grateful to have received a number of strong exhibition and event proposals for the next year, and we’ve booked events and exhibitions throughout summer 2014. We review proposals on a rolling basis; we welcome proposals for longer exhibitions (2-3 weeks in duration) for July 2014 and later. We are also accepting proposals for shorter-term exhibitions, and single-day events such as performances, lectures, screenings, skill share and educational workshops, etc. for all dates. Interested parties can send their proposals to: [email protected].

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