“The Box” sits at the intersection of art and medicine. It is a socially-conscious, collaborative, public art installation created by artist Ryan Cronin of CronArtUSA, alongside Go Doc Go Founder Maggie Carpenter, MD. Originally, “The Box” was originally designed and built to enable participants to circumvent the traditional (impersonal, corporate?)A Pap smear is used to screen for cervical cancer. (is the issue here more the private/for profit-healthcare industry?) Part self-collection space, part art space, “The Box” was initially used as a privacy booth installed in public locations that gave individuals with female parts a safe place to independently swab a sample to be tested for the HPV virus, the leading cause of cervical cancer. “The Box” placed the power of examination and self-care into the hands of the patient, pushing boundaries for how the US approaches healthcare.
“I built and painted “The Box” not solely as an art object. What interests me more is how the audience interacts with the space, how they respond to the experience, and what they take away from having participated,” said Cronin. “The Box” bypassed traditional medical routes as No exam was necessary, and was installed throughout the Hudson Valley and Brooklyn between 2018 and 2019, as well as at MASS MoCA in collaboration with O+.
In the spring of 2022, Cronin’s daughter, then a senior in high school, and a group of her peers, asked him if they could use “The Box” for a project, and together they re-envisioned it to become a safe space where people can enter and gather information and resources on topics like sexual health, mental health, domestic violence, and sexual assault, including scannable QR codes that link to additional sources.
Their goal was to provide information before someone finds themselves in a vulnerable situation with the hopes that they will be more likely to seek out the services in their time of need, understanding that navigating a system in response to a traumatic experience often leaves a person feeling powerless and overwhelmed. “The Box” was then installed this past Spring in the village of New Paltz engaging students, tourists, and locals alike.
“The Box” was installed at Unison Art Center in New Paltz, NY, where it will remain until the Fall of 2022. “The Box” will continue to evolve as new resources are added, information around sexual health and wellness as well as collaborations with other artists with the aim to create a truly engaged and active space for the community.
Long known as an anchor of arts and social engagement in the Hudson Valley, Unison Arts shares the ethos at work in The Box. Unison has long fostered public art projects and partnerships and is proud to carry on that legacy and cherished friendship with The Cronin Gallery. Although centered at their community space at 68 Mountain Rest Road, Unison Arts always met community where it best thrives. Currently operating a project space at 9 Paradies lane, also in New Paltz, Unison previously maintained space in the Water Street Market, a community and cultural hub at the base of the Shawangunk Ridge, also home to CronArtUSA’s headquarters, The Cronin Gallery, and The Shop.