Yellow House: Where social activism meets art

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The Yellow House is technically a gallery. It is a physical space that displays art from artists around the region while promoting and selling the work to the public. 

It isn’t one for technicalities, however. Just like the artists that display there, the Yellow House won’t fit into a box. More aptly, one could describe the location as a “hub” or “collaboration” or even simply, a “home.” 

Not that it doesn’t lack direction; Yellow House is where “Art + Action Meet Change.” According to the mission statement, the space is, “connecting art and community to build understanding, inspire empathy and spark civic engagement.” It does this by not only hosting activist artists but also public events that stimulate dialogue and promote diversity.  

Yellow House is the brain-child of the former director of the Cummer Museum, Hope McMath. She opened the nonprofit House in August 2017, with the aspiration of combining her love of activism and art. The house is consciously located within the mixed-income region that stands on the cusp of the CoRK Arts District — between the Riverside, Lackawanna and Mixon Town communities. McMath dreamed of creating a space, “where 20 people can sit in a room and share ideas to tackle challenges.” That is why she designed the gallery to be “set up like a living room,” she says. 

  “The thing we're trying to do is to provide a venue for artists where it's not necessarily about the art looking good over the couch, but it's art that has a really powerful story to tell,” McMath says. “I think there's been a misconception that art that is socially relevant isn't collectible. Yet, with every show we've done, we've almost completely sold out. This reinforces for these artists that this is this is a viable work to be doing.”

In addition to showcasing a diverse array of artists and messages, Yellow House is engaged with a variety of community projects. Notably, these include its involvement with Hurricane Irma recovery relief and partnerships with the Mayo Clinic, The 5 & Dime theatre, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and Jewish Family and Community Services. 

The Yellow House’s engagement with the community is just another way to help cross boundaries and bring people together. In some ways, simply by hosting an artist’s work, people are invited to discuss and evaluate the message, opening dialogue that bridges gaps between cultures.  

Recently, Yellow House hosted an exhibit by Thony Aiuppy, titled, “Piercing the Veil.” 

Aiuppy is currently an adjunct college art professor at University of North Florida and a former elementary art teacher for a Duval County school. His 28-piece collection reflects on his journey researching and uncovering historical racism and discrimination in America, predominately on a regional level. 

“I’ve been doing a lot of research and learning about the history of the city and history about how the South was built and taking that history and weaving it with my own personal story of (uncovering) my own privilege as a white man,” Aiuppy said. “I use these paintings as a way for me to learn to dig deeper. The art that I make is the research, just the dreaming and the learning process.”

During the exhibition reception, Aiuppy answered many questions regarding his work and his reasons behind it.

“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback and have gotten to have a lot of good conversations with people about the work. Especially people who may not have positive feelings toward what I am doing. Through conversation they become more open to hearing and understanding more of the ‘why’ part of making it. And then it’s like this personal connection (is made.)”

For more information on the Yellow House, events or to donate, visit YellowHouseArt.org. 

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