The Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP) treats all victims of violence who enter via the Emergency Department at Boston Medical Center. It is a peer model run program that provides crisis intervention, case management, mental health services, and reconnection to educational, vocational, and other community services. VIAP assists victims of violence and their families in recovering from physical and emotional trauma through empowerment. Empowerment enables victims and families to return to their communities, make positive changes in their lives, and strengthen others who were affected by violence, contributing to building safer, healthier communities.
“Overall our program works with victims of traumatic events to provide an environment that is soothing and beautiful which fosters a sense of wellbeing, something that is critical to the foundation of our therapeutic work. The art hanging in our program is creates a warm, appropriate atmosphere for the clients we serve. Without The Art Connection, our space would not be as inviting,” says Associate Director Elizabeth Dugan.
After two successful placement visits in 2012 and 2016, VIAP now has 28 works of art hanging in hallways, meeting rooms, and lobby areas of their facilities. Clients have also commented that “the artwork makes us feel like we are at home, not in an institution.” In some cases the artwork has even aided in dissolving first time jitters. Another client reported, “When I first came here to get help, I was scared and skeptical, but I’m an artist myself, so when I saw all the art, I felt good and I felt safe.”
“We love the artwork and we are very grateful and appreciative of the way that it enhances the space. The Art Connection made the process of picking the work really engaging too, and it’s brought everyone on staff closer,” says Dugan. One of the major through lines of the selection process where staff and clients from recipient agencies choose artwork is consensus. In exchange for throwing hierarchy out the window, the selection participants agree to honor all voices and remain open to all opinions about what would work best in their space and set the tone for the services they provide.
Sometimes this even results in a few pleasant surprises. The selection of prolific art donor Faith Hyde’s “Pink” was one of those instances, according to Dugan: “It was so funny how we decided on this piece. There was a staff member Donald, who was very much a positive force and mentor to many of the men [clients] that walk through these doors. People would always comment on his appearance, because he made a big point of always wearing pink shirts to show everyone that there’s no one way to be masculine and that men can wear pink. He left for Chicago a few years back and he now works as a sportscaster for CBS. So, as soon as this piece popped up during the selection process, we had to choose it because it reminds us of Donald.”
Whether it’s embracing clients with warmth or reminding staff of positive influences, the artwork will continue to generate positivity for years to come! To find out more about The Violence Intervention Advocacy Program check out their website https://www.bmc.org/programs/violence-intervention-advocacy-program