The Power of Art

On June 4, 2023 the first ever art exhibit was held at the soon-to-be museum of Discovery and Innovation at the PRHS. The artist, Adriana Katzew, is a professor of art education at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Having grown up in Mexico as the granddaughter of Polish immigrants who left Poland in the 1920s to escape antisemitism, she embraces all aspects of her multicultural background.

Katzew received a grant from the Simoni Foundation of Canton to work with the community to both exhibit her art and to help those interested in creating art pieces themselves. As a photography-based artist whose art is often personal and powerful, she believes that by sharing our stories of heritage, culture, and immigration we promote understanding and empathy. Participants were asked to bring in an object which was meaningful to them. They then wrote 2-3 sentences about their piece. Katzew then combined the participant’s words, the object of their photo, and added color, texture, or shading to highlight or enhance the art piece.

Before Katzew addressed the audience on June 4, volunteer and Co-chairperson of the Committee on Education, Exhibits and Collections, Joyce Stenmon, introduced Katzew and explained how she and Katzew had met. Then, Co-chairperson Pam D’Agostino addressed the audience. She told a short story about a friend who had just returned from Canada. Upon learning that their friend would be returning to the US, every person from whom she took her leave told her the same thing: Don’t get shot!! Sadly, the way Canadians view their American neighbors, sometimes seems all too true! D’Agostino emphasized that she was not there to discuss gun control, but rather the power of art. By sharing stories of both joy, and sorrow, by listening to others and learning their stories, we can indeed fight divisiveness and encourage unity.

Katzew’s audience was enthralled by her explanation of the origins of her art, her creative process, as well as her reasons for doing what she does. She spoke to a full house which included representatives from CHS, who had participated in the community artwork, as well as Thomas Green, another participant, and a member of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, the indigenous people who first settled on the PRHS. Many groups, nationalities, and ethnicities were represented at this gathering, proving as Katzew believes, that art can be a powerful force in promoting understanding and empathy.

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