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Ernestine and Three Friends (Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Women's Shelter)

Object Name: Bust
Date: ca. 1992
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Medium: Acrylic on plaster
Dimensions: Part (a): 24 × 19 × 9 in. (61 × 48.3 × 22.9 cm) Part (b): 24 × 32 × 11 in. (61 × 81.3 × 27.9 cm) Part (c): 24 × 21 × 11 in. (61 × 53.3 × 27.9 cm) Part (d): 21 × 22 1/2 × 8 in. (53.3 × 57.2 × 20.3 cm)
Description: Four cast pigmented plaster busts: a (“Ernestine”) b (“Praying Woman”) c (“Woman in Yellow Shirt”) d (“Woman in Black Shirt Wearing Pin Labeled AHC: Artist & Homeless Collaborative”)
Credit Line: Gift of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
Object Number: 2016.63a-d
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John Ahearn and RigobertoTorres created Ernestine and Three Friends as a contribution to the Artist & Homeless Collaborative, which was founded by artist and activist Hope Sandrow in 1990, at what was then the Park Avenue Shelter for Homeless Women. At the time, the shelter was a “drill room” with fifty beds on an upper floor of the Armory, which housed women over the age of forty-five. The Artist & Homeless Collaborative was an affiliation of artists, art professionals, and female residents of the shelter. Shelter residents participated in the creation of art, with the goal of self-empowerment. John Ahearn recalls that he and Torres worked on the life casting at the shelter with the women present. He then brought each piece back to his South Bronx studio to work on carving and painting, before returning it to the shelter to be hung on the walls.