HOME | About | common cathedral | common art | CityReach | How to Help | Resources | Contact Us

To a justice worker the master said,
"You stress only one of the two imperatives of justice."
"The poor have a right to bread."
"What's the other one?"
"The poor have a right to beauty."


Welcome to common art - a program of common cathedral at Ecclesia Ministries which provides space, materials and caring support staff to homeless people to develop their artistic abilities. People who live in shelters, rooming houses, on unclaimed couches and benches, and on Boston's streets, gather every Wednesday at Emmanuel Church on Newbury Street to draw, paint, sculpt, make crafts, and to share with other artists in like circumstances.

For most members, common art is a singular chance to express their artistic gifts. For some, art is a professional path, interrupted and suspended by calamity and homelessness. For some, its an opportunity to express unheard opinions, ideas and truths. For some, its pure joy, an oasis of form and color in otherwise dry times. For some, it's a simple and welcome relief from daily difficulty.

For many common art members, art is a way of life. For others, its a new discovery. But for all, art is passion, expressing and affirming life itself, a defiant or gentle "yes" in the face of stigma and constant struggle of poverty and homelessness.

Watch Dale's story, profiled by Ashley Kennedy in her film, "Uncommon Art"

Common art was begun in 1999 by a group of homeless men and women with the assistance of ministers from St. John the Evangelist Church on Bowdoin Street and Ecclesia Ministries. From its inception, the mission guiding common art has been to serve individuals within Boston's poor and homeless communities by providing resources and opportunities for creating and participating in the arts. This is a unique opportunity within the Boston community. As one person expressed, "common art is famous! Everybody knows about it on the street!"

In its present form, common art works both to promote access to the arts for its members and to help facilitate the expression of members' artistic gifts. In this way, common art acknowledges the dignity of all human beings and honors the divine creativity within each person. Through proactive advocacy, common art provides companionship and inclusive community, a place to come together and to share with other artists. common art embraces all artistic expression as healing and healthful, affirming of life itself. As Shaun McNiff of Lesley College expressed in his book Art as Medicine, "Whenever illness is associated with loss of soul, the arts emerge spontaneously as remedies, as soul medicine." common art is guided by this profound understanding.


Tommy Higgins


Common art is open to all!

Common art meets once a week, on Wednesday from 9am to 3pm at Emmanuel Church Parish Hall, 15 Newbury Street, Boston.

A typical gathering includes 25- 30 artists along with volunteers, interns and staff people. Artists are provided with materials and space to draw, write, paint, sculpt, make stained glass, jewelry and other crafts. They are served breakfast and lunch. Through the time of the program, they are mentored in creative expression within an atmosphere of empathy. The acquisition during Spring of 2005 of the Gridwall Gallery, our outside display, has added more artists as well and increased artists' participation in showing and selling of their work. At present, common art finds itself in an exciting period of growth.

Quotes from the Artists:

"I don't know what I would do without you guys and this program."
"I just feel like its such a privilege for me to be able to come here each week."
"I don't really have anything to look forward to except for Wednesday and common art."
"I would like to give back 25% of this money to say thanks and help keep common art going."
"Thank you so much for helping us sell our work each week. It's great."

Common art members have exhibited their work together and individually in Boston's art and faith communities since 2001, including an exhibition staged at the Massachusetts State House in March 2003.

Our artists continue to be eager to exhibit their work in churches, public buildings such as libraries, and in places of business. Please contact the Ecclesia office if you are interested in arranging such an exhibit.

Please feel free to visit our Gridwall Gallery at Emmanuel Church on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.



This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council,, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

to TOP


P.O. Box 51003
Boston, MA 02205