In May 2015, The Standard, an insurance company with nearly 2,200 employees, held its 5th annual ARTS Project. The ARTS Project, short for Artists in Residence at The Standard, is a weeklong pop-up gallery running in a former law library in the Standard Insurance Center in Portland, Oregon. From attorneys to actuaries and marketing and IT professionals, 35 employees exhibited 60 original works of art, including visual and textile art, as well as jewelry and fashion pieces. This year the Standard added a culinary arts category to the mix.
According to an article on OregonianLive.com, ARTS Project began in 2011 as a graduation requirement for company lawyer, Akira Heshiki, who was attending a corporate leadership class sponsored by the Center for Asian Pacific American Women. Heshiki was tasked with developing a program that would enable her to become a better leader by incorporating her “whole self” in the workplace. Heshiki, a photographer, first thought she could share her photographs with her coworkers, but then realized the idea would be most effective if her colleagues could also get involved.
"This is just an opportunity for us as employees to gain a fuller picture of the people we work alongside, to see each other as more than just our job titles," Heshiki said. "When you view somebody's art, you get to see their point of view, their struggles, their experiences, and that helps us treat each other better. The added benefit is that we're encouraging innovation and creativity and learning different ways to be problem solvers."
According to the article, staff from The Nines, a luxury hotel in Portland, attended one year and was inspired to create their own employee art show. Additionally, members of the Portland community are taking a positive note of The Standard’s project. An associate professor at Portland State University’s School of Business Administration, Ellen West, told OregonianLive.com, “A lot of people equate creativity with being an artist…but everybody has the capability to be creative. I think a business is missing the boat by not offering activities like that. It’s fun and it celebrates the human spirit.”
Photo credit: George Rede | The Oregonian/OregonLive.