Situated under the highway near a salt pile and tow lot in a non-descript building, the Opioid Treatment Program of the Boston Public Health Commission provides free medication-assisted substance abuse services to primarily poor, uninsured, homeless, pregnant, and medically compromised individuals. Most people would pass by without even noticing it was there. But step inside, and the space is alive with color, art, care, and recovery.
The Opioid Treatment Program recently held an art reception in May to showcase the 17 original works of art that now live with the clients and staff who selected them. During the selection, participants noted that the art will “promote a more calming and friendly environment,” and that it will “enhance the therapeutic atmosphere of the clinic and evoke thoughts and emotions by all.” At the reception, artists spoke about their work, and clients shared the difference that the art makes in their lives. They commented that they appreciate how beautiful the art is and how it “helps us get through the day.”
Art donors in attendance at the reception included: Prilla Smith Brackett, Roberto Castro, Ellen Gower, Faith Hyde, and Mike Ritter. All artists were pleased with the placement of their work and were overwhelmingly impressed by the people and the work of the agency. Faith Hyde likened attending the event to being a “privilege,” expressing her admiration of the people who help so many and the courage of the clients to speak up and say what the art meant to them. Similarly, Prilla Smith Brackett said, “it was especially moving to hear the clients’ comments about how the art really mattered to them.”
The main group therapy room has four pieces that all depict some type of looking out. The art helps to transport the staff and clients to a space other than the one “under the highway.” Eileen Brigandi, director of the program, reflected on how the installation of original artwork helped transform the space: “Since BPHC-Opioid Treatment Program is located in an industrial area, it was essential that we created an environment that was welcoming, attractive, and first-rate. The Art Connection provided us with the means to achieve that goal. This project shows clients that they are important and deserve an appealing space to come to and receive their care.”