MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA Spotlight: Emma Cantrell


“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful” people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.

– David Orr, from the essay “What is Education For”

My journey to serving with MACC AmeriCorps* VISTA began with the above quote, something I read early in my career as an undergraduate studying art. That essay helped me to redefine my ideas of personal success, and continually seek ways in which my art and design practice could “fight to make the world more habitable and humane.” The quote stuck with me, and in time it led me to transfer to the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), where I earned a BFA in Community Art Education.

As an undergraduate at MassArt, I worked with the Center for Art and Community Partnerships, as well as many other areas of the college that partnered with community organizations and public schools, and I began to appreciate mutually beneficial, collaborative partnerships developed and maintained by community members, faculty, staff (including previous MACC AmeriCorps*VISTAs!) and students of the college.


My experience at MassArt and in the Boston community solidified my belief in the transformative power of art experiences (whether it be viewing or making), and I believe that those experiences should be accessible to all people. As the only independent, public college of art and design in the country, I feel that MassArt is in a unique position that allows for the college to advocate for and provide art experiences for everyone. Additionally, I hope to support artists and designers from the MassArt community in learning from and growing with the neighborhood and people that surround our campus. I envision the inevitable “bubble” of the college campus, like that of the artist’s studio, becoming a permeable membrane through which ideas and resources are shared with the outside community.

For me, the Center for Art and Community Partnerships at MassArt is the perfect placement for my year as a VISTA, because I am able to leverage the unique resources of a college of art and design to support art experiences in the communities of Mission Hill, Roxbury, and other areas of Boston.


Emma Cantrell


Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt)

In partnership with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Parker Hill/Fenway, the Parker Hill Branch of the Boston Public Library, and the Mission Hill Youth Collaborative.


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