First published:Winter 1998
Grass Roots Art and Community Effort (G.R.A.C.E) was established by Don Sunseri in 1975 as a workshop program in Vermont, to encourage art making among various marginalized groups. The program focused upon the elderly and institutionalized, and in one light testifies to the triumph of a therapeutic ideology – social control and cost reduction through diversionary doodling – in which it's irrelevant whether the work is any good or if it's seen by anyone else. Yet Sunseri came to the rugged and isolated quadrant of Vermont with a radically different attitude.
'Art is art, and the people who make it are artists whatever else they might be. And they want their work to be seen.'
One of a group of promising New York artists in the late '60s that included Jeff Way, Frank Owen and Elizabeth Murray, Sunseri was working as an all-purpose maintenance troubleshooter in a convalescent home when he realized that he had found the garden of artistic Eden. The people around him could do incredible things; they began to make art.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #25