Introducing UConn Health’s New Art Curator

An artist himself, Andre Rochester likens UConn Health’s collection to ‘a mini museum’

Andre Rochester next to and in front of artwork

The Frank Stella piece hanging behind curator Andre Rochester outside the Health Sciences Library is among the highest-profile pieces in UConn Health's art collection. (Photo by Tina Encarnacion)

Andre Rochester says he wasn’t quite sure what to expect when someone he knew from the Greater Hartford Arts Council encouraged him to look into UConn Health’s open art curator position.

“I’m glad that I did, because I see an opportunity to exercise this curation muscle that I’ve been building for these last 15 years in a totally different space than what I’m used to,” he says.

Rochester is UConn Health’s third art curator, succeeding Linda Webber, who retired last year. He is active in the local arts community and his own portfolio includes acrylic paintings, oil paintings, and charcoal and pastel drawings.

acrylic painting
“Contemplation” is an acrylic on canvas by Andre Rochester, who recently joined UConn Health as curator of its art collection. (Image used with artist’s permission)

He’s spent the first few weeks familiarizing himself with UConn Health’s art collection, which has grown to more than 2,500 pieces over four decades.

“It’s like a mini museum,” Rochester says. “I’m going to make it my job to heighten the awareness of the collection and get people more interested in looking around as they walk around the facilities. There’s plenty to look at, so I want to make sure that folks are noticing it, and that they’re interacting with the space. I’m also looking at how many blank walls we have and what we could possibly do there.”

Rochester holds a degree in studio art from Charter Oak State college and a master’s in organizational leadership from Quinnipiac University.

People come here to get better… and I think if there’s something beautiful in the room, it might just help out with that. — Andre Rochester

He says directing the UConn Health art collection’s future will require study of its past.

“I want to understand the story behind UConn Health’s collection,” Rochester says. “What are the commonalities between some of these artists who have donated work?”

And it didn’t take long for him to make some impressive discoveries.

“The fact that we have a Frank Stella piece, and we have a Sol LeWitt piece here, that gives it some significance,” Rochester says. “These are not just run-of-the-mill artists who were hobbyists in their lifetime. These are people who did actually receive a lot of accolades and were in fact world-famous in their time.”

Andre Rochester environmental portrait
Andre Rochester is UConn Health’s new art curator. (Photo provided by Andre Rochester)

Rochester’s vision for UConn Health’s art collection is to have it enhance the healing and teaching environment by contributing to how people feel in the space, not only for the patients who are trying to get better and visitors who may be anxious, but also for the people who are providing care and those who are learning from them.

“People come here to get better,” he says. “If you’re in pain, you want to think about everything but that pain, and I think if there’s something beautiful in the room, it might just help out with that.”

Rochester lives in East Hartford with his wife, Shawnee, and their one-month-old son, Andre Jr. Beyond UConn Health, his involvement in the Greater Hartford arts community includes serving on the boards of the Windsor Art Center and Connecticut Arts Alliance; as program manager of the 224 EcoSpace, a hub for entrepreneurs in the creative field; and as program manager of the Artist of Color Accelerate fellowship, from which he graduated last year as part of the inaugural cohort.

He is also part of the 2022-23 National Leaders of Color Fellowship, a program for art leaders across the country, with one representative from each state.

Learn more UConn Health’s art curator, Andre Rochester.