Guest Commentator: Genevieve Coutroubis, Executive Artistic Director, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists @PhilaCFEVA

How does displaying artwork in the workplace contribute to creativity and employee morale?

When The Center for Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA) started placing artwork outside of traditional art venues, the solitary act of installation became an interactive one. People would come up to us throughout the day commenting on the work going up in their space.  Everyone seemed to have an opinion and a desire to engage and interact with the pieces.

When artwork is going up, it seems that people think about whether they would choose the same piece. They are curious about the artist’s intent and the creative process; when it comes down they feel a void. It is almost as though they can’t remember life before the installation. The walls are now bare and the environment feels empty. Just as with a beautiful home or an inviting restaurant, a workplace can have a stimulating and welcoming atmosphere. What we see on the walls at work can change how we think about this space that we spend so much time in.

The way that we experience artwork that hangs in the places where we work, meet, and/or receive services impacts us differently than a trip to the museum or gallery. Artwork also occupies a different space than the work that we are attracted to and collect. The art that we have to “live” with in our work environments creates a conversation that we didn’t know we were going to have. In some situations, the work confronts us with a new -at times – foreign perspective that provides enrichment that we never anticipated. More often than not an employee’s favorite piece differs from the beginning of an exhibition to the end. This visual stimulation and conversation influence the way we tackle our work day.

Our work environment impacts us profoundly. Though the exact formula that inspires creativity or changes a company’s employee morale is hard to pinpoint, the fact that artwork has a significant impact in the workplace validated by the stories we hear and the strong support for the artwork once it’s up. In addition there is one indicator that truly illustrates the real success of each workplace exhibition. The dismay when the artwork comes down remains the most important sign that the artwork has both increased morale and sparked creativity.  We hear the loudest voices as the work is being taken away, and hear a collective sigh of relief when we explain that we are coming tomorrow with new artwork.

The Chamber knows firsthand about the benefits of having a space filled with original artwork. Since 2013, the Chamber has partnered with the Center for Emerging Visual Artists to create the Galleries at the Chamber, a year-round installation in our Center City offices featuring 10-20 regional artists.