Alumni Stories: “Where Are They Now?”

Edition 05—Daniel Backman

Before the EpiCenter, Artists For Humanity called an eclectic warehouse space on A Street home.
Artists For Humanity group photo, 1997
Left to Right: The old AFH studios on A Street; Backman painting a mural in the space as a teenager.
Daniel Backman’s “Forward Slash Furlough,” collage on paper

“ It was the first time I had walked into an art studio and seen work that I identified with. I was like ‘Ah! This is what I want to do’. ”

This inspiration, something shared by many AFH alumni, was a part of Backman’s journey in finding a path of interest that ultimately helped him shape his career and aspirations.

Let to Right: Backman at work; Rendering of Burbank Auditorium project at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Backman leading a project meeting for a theatre renovation project.
“Camper Vandal,” collage on paper

Backman’s graduate thesis at Berkeley was a study to recreate the AFH model in the Bay Area with a large focus on how artists shape their own physical studio space and environment.

It allowed him to experience the business side of AFH, which opened his eyes to the collaborative nature of successful nonprofit models. “I realized that I was very passionate about the art side of it but the creation, organization, and management of a nonprofit is something that is not my strong suit,” he explained, noting how organization and management was not something that many architects thought about when working on projects.

Backman at the opening of his solo show “Infrastruction” at Hallway Gallery, Jamaica Plain.

“Boston was a very different place in the mid-90s. It was a much more dangerous and tough place to be a kid. AFH brought us into a safe space where we could be really creative, could contribute, and be pushed towards something better. “

Backman reflects, “AFH made the city a much better, happier, and safer place every summer because the kids had jobs. They had something to do, they had money in their pockets, they were less likely to do dumb, violent, or wasteful stuff. And I think that at its basis, putting all the artists' stuff aside, it’s just important to have something to do. I think looking at other students who really had no other creative outlet or no one else to support them, AFH was just so vital.”

“SpaceShift,” collage on paper

CREATIVE JOBS FOR CREATIVE TEENS

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