American Folk Art Museum Acquires Healing Arts Initiative's Archive

  • NEW YORK, Alaska
  • /
  • March 09, 2022

  • Email
Irene Philips, Untitled, 1992. Mixed media on paper, 18 x 18 in. ⁠ ⁠

The American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) announced that it will receive the artistic archives of Healing Arts Initiative (HAI). In an agreement forged with White Columns, which temporarily housed the archives beginning in 2017, the Museum will conserve this collection, as well as make it accessible to artists, students, researchers, and the broader public.

“The American Folk Art Museum is honored to preserve this exceptional archive. We hope that our goal to expand access to these artworks will help to continue the mission of HAI ‘to inspire healing, growth, and learning through engagement in the arts’, particularly for communities whose artistic expression has not always been nurtured or given a venue,” said Regina Carra, the Museum’s Rapaport Archivist.

For nearly five decades, HAI created a platform and a community for some of New York City’s most culturally underserved residents, specifically the elderly, individuals with low-income, and people living with mental illness. Through its workshops and studio programs, HAI has supported and encouraged the talents of hundreds of artists, some of whom are now widely recognized.

“We are deeply thankful for HAI’s former staff, and for the visionary actions taken by White Columns in protecting this meaningful collection,” said AFAM’s Senior Curator, Valérie Rousseau.

“When HAI closed, White Columns was instrumental in helping to preserve the organization’s four-decade-plus archive of art—an unprecedented and historically significant collection of several thousand individual works. We are thrilled that this collection will now enter the American Folk Art Museum, where it will be cared for, studied, and made accessible for generations to come,” said Matthew Higgs, Director and Chief Curator of White Columns.

“I am thrilled that the HAI archives has finally found a safe harbor at the American Folk Art Museum, where the extraordinary work of these important artists will be available to be viewed. The lives and struggles of the artists will not be forgotten, and they can take their rightful places in the history of Outsider Art,” said Quimetta Perle, HAI Art Studio and Gallery Director.

Among HAI ‘s earliest program participants were artists Lady Shalimar Montague, Ray Hamilton, Irene Phillips, and Rocco Fama. All four began to make art at HAI’s workshops. Throughout its five decades, HAI’s programming expanded to include a studio and gallery, providing artists with even greater access to space, materials, exhibition opportunities, and camaraderie. Moreover, HAI supported the talents of hundreds of living artists, including Melvin Way, Julius Caesar Bustamante, and Derrick Alexis Coard. Initially, the archive will be available to view by appointment at a date determined later this year.

Commented Jason T. Busch, AFAM’s Director and CEO: “With appreciation to White Columns, Quimetta Perle, and the New York State Attorney General’s Office, we are grateful for the opportunity to take care of this archive.”

About The Healing Arts Initiative

Healing Arts Initiative (HAI) was founded in 1970, originally as Hospital Audiences Inc.; its mission was to inspire healing, growth, and learning through engagement in the arts for the culturally underserved in New York City and whose access to the arts had been limited by health, age, or income. HAI’s art workshops originally began as programs for individuals living in Private Proprietary Adult Homes.

About the American Folk Art Museum

The American Folk Art Museum engages people of all backgrounds through its collections, exhibitions, publications, and programs as the leading forum shaping the understanding and appreciation of folk and self-taught art across time and place. The Museum is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2022.



  • Email

Related Press Releases