Shelly Losee, Executive Director of A=rt, lives and works as an artist in the Lowertown Art District of St. Paul, Minnesota. She has a passion for using acrylic paint to illuminate the poetry of masters like Jelaluddin Rumi, Hafiz of Shirazi, and Lalla Ded.
Shelly also has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has worked in the social services field for over two decades in the areas of child protection, children’s mental health, adult services, and family chemical dependency treatment court.
After visiting clients in countless institutions (detox centers, treatment centers, homeless shelters, state hospitals, etc.), it became a dream of hers to one day transform the buildings into beautiful and nurturing spaces that encourages healing through the use of original artwork.
In 2014, Shelly toured the newly built Ramsey County Detox Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. During her visit, it became evident that while the detox staff had a strong commitment to create a welcoming environment for their clients, they lacked the budget to do so. This inspired Shelly and well-known local artist Kristi Abbott (Made By Kristi) to create A=rt in order to facilitate a connection between local artists and the detox center.
This marked the start of A=rt’s journey to embrace the healing impact that art has on individuals. After reviewing research articles, touring established art programs (Mayo Clinic, Regions Hospital, Bethesda Hospital, and Children’s Hospital), and holding focus groups with clients and staff at the detox center, A=rt began an ambitious fundraising campaign to transform the detox center. Please visit our Projects section to learn more about this transformation and other projects that A=rt is currently working on.
Today, A=rt works passionately towards the mission of creating welcoming environments that reflect the value and diversity of those who use them.