Experimentation results: Collaborative Community Canvas, Year 1

Saturday, April 9 & Sunday, April 10, 2022
353 Crown St. Courtyard, New Haven CT
Hosted as part of Yale School of Art’s 2022 Open Studios

I work in communications at the Yale School of Art by day, and as part of our first public event since COVID—Spring 2022’s Open Studios—I hosted the first in a series of projects I’m calling the “Collaborative Community Canvas,” exploring how material intervention impacts agency. If you’re given the tools of the artist, can you see yourself as one?

The Setup

what happens when space opens up?

what happens when everyone’s invited to see themselves as an artist?

how can perceptions of public space change through an interweaving of these two questions?

Day 1: Saturday

The Collaborative Community Canvas is an experiment in expression—what do people, what would you, create when an invitation to create is offered and the space for it is facilitated?

I want to separate art from its commercial contexts, and use the ideologies of graffiti and street art to see how. folks interact visually when invited to do so. What does it mean to create and leave your creation behind for collaboration with others?

How does the material change—overlaying canvas on brick—alter the possibilities for a wall governed by an institution as entrenched as Yale? How can this collective representation reach beyond momentary aesthetics? How can we come to view the public space as “ours” in the same way a collective canvas is “ours”? What would it happen if everyone were invited to claim space?

Day 2: Sunday


Over 1,000 people attended open studios in 2022, and the interactions between artists on the collaborative canvas were both abstract and direct: from interweaving scenes and figures through lines and loops, to someone writing “Sucks” and pointing it towards a New York Yankees logo drawn by someone else.

Epilogue: Break down

About the author

Lindsey Mancini

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About the Author


Lindsey Mancini is an arts accessibility activist and digital strategist studying the essential connectedness—or disconnectedness—between art and community.

She currently works in communications at the Yale School of Art, and teaches as an adjunct professor of contemporary art at Eastern Connecticut State University. In 2017 she earned an MS with distinction in the history of art & design from Pratt Institute, where she wrote her 80-page thesis on street art theory. Lindsey is currently pursuing a PhD in Visual Arts, Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Art Theory from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.