New York’s Coalition for the Homeless, which typically hosts its annual ArtWalk fund-raiser in the fall, decided to forgo the common pandemic fund-raising pivots. Instead of a virtual gala or charity auction, the organization instead hopes to drum up support through the launch of limited-edition artist plates.
As part of last year’s gala, the coalition produced a limited-edition plate with artist honoree Katherine Bernhardt, which sold out in just a few hours. Michelle Hellman, who has been part of the Coalition’s Art Advisory Board for nine years, saw an opportunity to expand upon that successful initiative: more artists, and more plates. Starting Nov. 16, porcelain plates from 50 artists will go on sale in editions of 175. Priced at $175 a plate, each sale will fund warm meals for 75 homeless New Yorkers.
“The role of ‘artist as activist’ has been at the core of the event for 25 years,” says Hellman. “This was our chance to get creative and create something that would tug at people’s hearts, be more democratic and accessible than an expensive painting in auction or a pricy gala ticket, and a chance to partner with artists in a more collaborative way. It also was a nice way to tie the message of staying home in a pandemic and sharing a meal with your friends or family on the plates that could provide hot, warm, nutritious meals to those in need.”
Every artist asked to participate in the project agreed to, including Ugo Rondinone, Rashid Johnson, Lorna Simpson, Cecily Brown, Sterling Ruby, Lawrence Weiner, Austin Lee, Derrick Adams, Nina Chanel Abney and Maurizio Cattelan. The plates were created in collaboration with Prospect.
The coalition has stepped up its efforts since the beginning of the pandemic, increasing meal production for its nightly mobile soup kitchen by 40 percent. Since March, the organization has provided more than 200,000 meals, as well as 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and 130,000 surgical masks. It has also provided funds for homeless people to purchase essential items like medications and clothing, and access to resources like showers, bathrooms and bottled water through the operation of two relief centers in Manhattan.
“And most important of all is the coalition is out there advocating to ensure that those without homes have access to appropriate shelter, safe hotel rooms, medical care and services,” adds Hellman.
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