Where We Live

I’ve written about art as a catalyst for social change before. In today’s housing crisis, artists are among the victims of high costs, limited inventory, and gentrification, but many are realizing they can use their art as a catalyst for change. Similar to charrettes, Where We Live draws on the belief that visual representations of home and housing will help to change the conversation about New Hampshire’s housing crisis.

Where We Live is a virtual art exhibit celebrating the places we call home hosted by the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast. The show aims to better connect viewers, as individuals, to the beauty, diversity, and importance of the places we call home. The theme of the show, home, was intentionally broad, encouraging participating artists to reflect on what “home” means to them. 

Top row: “Shadow of the Past, Court Street, from “Windows of Portsmouth“, Elissa Von Letkemann; “Sprouted” by Kate Knox; “If I Lived Here, I’d be Home by Now”, Lindsay Gwinn Parker
Bottom row: “Neighbors”, Bri Custer; “Home Landing”, Artful Harper Studios; “No Trucks on McDonough”, Stacey Durand

I’m on a mission to change the conversation about housing. The single biggest barrier to solving New Hampshire’s housing crisis is fear. Fears about what workforce housing looks like, who will live there, and how it will change the community. Where We Live aims to show viewers what we really mean when we talk about “housing”: beautiful places that people call home. 

What does “home” mean?

Each artist submitted a statement about what “home” means to them. Themes of comfort, peace, belonging, community, and safety emerged. Many artists referenced the coronavirus pandemic and how their appreciation for their home has grown. For the past four months, home has been a lot of things for a lot of people: their office, playground, gym, art studio, and so on. Here are a few of the statements that I thought captured the essence of the show:

Home is where the heart is. Having lived in many places over the years, I realize that home is more of a feeling than a physical structure. Though my Windows of Portsmouth illustration series focuses on exterior architecture of homes, I am always more interested in the narratives of what could be happening behind the glass.

—— Elissa Von Letkemann, www.elissavonletkemann.com 


Home should be a place where everyone can feel safe to be themselves, but unfortunately, housing affordability and housing security are increasingly elusive.

—— Kathleen Tunnell Handel, www.kathleentunnellhandel.com 


Home to me means your own safe haven. As someone who is currently looking to purchase her second house, it’s very difficult to find a safe haven right now in this region. This piece represents how far it feels I have to look to find an available home.

—— Laura Harper Lake, www.ArtfulHarperStudios.com


Where We Live will be housed online on the Coalition’s website. View the show and find out how to add your artwork to the collection at  www.seacoastwhc.org/wherewelive.

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