I Am Project HOME: Rachel Ehrgood
Rachel Ehrgood knows how beautiful art can be – but she also strongly believes in its transformational power, for individuals and for our society.
For the past four years, Rachel has served as coordinator of Project HOME’s Arts Program. A core part of her work is facilitating workshops for residents and community members, featuring a variety of art mediums through which participants explore various concepts and ideas as well as aspects of their selves.
She also coordinates exhibits of residents’ art and works with a range of community partners (including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation) to develop arts curricula and programs for residents. And since the Arts Program is part of our Social Enterprise program, Rachel often has the satisfaction of seeing residents’ art sell.
Many of the participants in Project HOME’s Arts Program are experienced artists, whom Rachel calls “experts in their media, with an incredible capacity to tell the truth in art-making.” Their creative gifts and personal leadership are core to the success of the program. For other residents, artistic creativity is a new experience, and they often carry resistances to believing in their own capacities. But as they persist in disciplined practice, Rachel says, they are able to achieve the visual concepts that validate aspects of their personal experience. “Their work ranges from gritty social critique to beautiful still lives to abstracts. The results are impressive and often surprising – you see creative expressions that you would never have imagined.”
Rachel brings her background of degrees in fine arts and art history and experience teaching community art programs, as well as her own art, to her work at Project HOME. She treasures the in-depth relationships she forms with participants in the program, and finds great meaning and joy in seeing creativity blossom and in learning about people’s wide-ranging perspectives that inform their artistic expression.
For Rachel, the Arts Program is an important expression of the mission and values of Project HOME. “The work that comes out of the experiences and perspectives of our residents influence our work and help us know how we can better take care of each other.” And it nurtures a more just and compassionate society by creating space for visual expressions of dignity of those who have experienced poverty and social marginalization.
Casundra Pressley, a resident and artist from Connelly House, probably speaks for many participants in the Arts Program when she says, “Rachel is a radiant, beautiful spirit who instills a creative essence in me.”
"Expression of the soul is the most enriching thing to our culture.” Rachel (a new mother) is grateful to be able to midwife much soulful creativity – and we are all richer for it.
To learn more about our Arts Program, including how to purchase residents’ art, go to www.projecthome.org/artprogram.