I had the opportunity of doing service work with John William Bailly at his first solo exhibition at the LnS Gallery. This gallery, in specific, is geared towards showcasing contemporary art by Miami based artists (Laino). Sergio Cernuda and Luisa Lignarolo have managed to create such a unique and inviting space. Surprisingly, this was my first time ever visiting a gallery, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The minute I walked in, I noticed everyone dressed in their best attire and an extremely welcoming environment. I eagerly glanced at all the pieces in the gallery, trying to decipher what each of them meant. After taking in the art and familiarizing myself with the space, it was time to help Sofia Guerra, the curator of Bailly’s project room, greet the guests and display the art for others to see. I had never seen anything like this before, nor knew how to properly open the drawers and speak to the viewers. After putting on my black gloves, I quickly got the hang of displaying the pieces for people to see and explaining the exhibit. It was interesting to hear everyone’s perceptions of the art pieces, as they all had a different view. This was probably my favorite part of the night because being there allowed me to view the pieces in a way I would have never seen them. It amazes me how much detail is put into every piece, and how people catch on to these slight details. Being an Accounting major, the furthest thing possible from an Art major, I never expected to volunteer in a gallery, let alone explain art pieces to potential buyers. It was a side of me that I never knew existed. I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone, as I now feel confident in a place like an art gallery.
The second institution I did service work at was Camillus House. This non-profit agency offers aid to those who are homeless, in need of food, or even seeking rehabilitation (Camillus House). I had always thought of Camillus House as just a place to receive food and donations. To my surprise, they had an extensive about of benefits and programs for anyone seeking help. As soon as we arrived, the director, Alessandra Laricchia, gave us a tour of the campus. We visited the emergency housing center, the clothing and shower rooms, and the mailroom. The emergency housing center consisted of several beds and night tables lined up next to each other. The first thing I noticed when walking in to the emergency housing was the fact that every single bed and sleeping area was occupied. Homelessness is a leading problem in Miami, especially in neighborhoods like Overtown, where Camillus House is located. They explained that less than ten beds become available every few months, which is certainly not enough to help everyone seeking a roof over their head. The clothing and shower rooms were places that made those staying there feel like they were at home. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Camillus House allows everyone to choose clothing from several racks of shirts, pants, business attire, shoes, etc. I thought this experience was something extremely special. We pick out clothes from our closet everyday and don’t think twice about it. These people are picking up an old pair of shoes and thinking about it for weeks. They are relieved to be able to save their weeks’ worth of money to buy necessities. Another area that I thought was interesting, but didn’t think much of, was the mailroom. I found it helpful for those living there to be able to receive their mail at the location they were currently residing. However, I quickly learned that the Camillus House mailroom is an extremely important place, even for those individuals living in the streets. The organization allows people, who have no address to send mail to, to use Camillus House as their mailing address. This means people receiving welfare, money from other places, or even immigration papers can finally have a place to collect their mail from. Something as simple as receiving mail is especially difficult for those with no place to call home. Visiting Camillus House made me reflect on the aspects of my life that are customary. I wake up every morning in my bed, I take a hot shower every night, and I receive my mail almost every day. To most, these routine activities sound so mundane, but to the people in Camillus House, they sound like a dream.
Alessandra Laricchia- Community Relations Manager
Cell: 786.775.8192, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laino, Jessie. “LNS Gallery: Artists, Art for Sale, and Contact Info.” Artsy, 2019, http://www.artsy.net/lns-gallery.
“Camillus House – Camillus House.” Camillus House – Camillus House, 2019, http://www.camillus.org/.