In 2012, after deciding to relocate from Washington D.C. to be closer to her daughter, Connie Razza arrived in New Haven eager to experience a new city. Over the years, living in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Connie acquired an extensive collection of African art, a large portion of which she donated to two organizations: Sons & Daughters of Africa and African Dancers & Drummers.
Upon her move to New Haven’s Ninth Square Historic District, Connie quickly became involved in Artspace as a volunteer for many of the events the organization offers. During this time she became familiar with a number of local artists during Artspace’s City-Wide Open Studios and Gala benefit auction. Through these annual events she added three Connecticut artists to her collection: Thuan Vu, Clymenza Hawkins and Stephen Grossman.
With each work she purchases there’s an “initial impact”: the work immediately says something, pulls her in. While describing Thuan Vu’s piece, a circular image of one of the painter’s invented landscapes, she mentions how it made her visualize that moment “as you’re dying and you’re ascending into the light”.
Connie laughs as she describes how she battled for one Clymenza Hawkins work at a recent Artspace Gala. “I saw someone put their name below me, and they were about to pull the sheets.” At the very last second Connie was able to scribble her final bid and take home Hawkin’s piece, she now owns four by the artist.
Stephen Grossman’s “The Singer”, a piece Connie found at the CWOS main exhibition, rests above her staircase. For her, Stephen’s piece was about passion. It is one of three works seen as visitors enter her home that seem to resound with a joyous song. Each depicts a woman, mouth open, appearing to shout jubilantly towards the sky. As she explains, “they are big gestured and praise-like”.
In addition to showcasing these three local artists, Connie’s home is filled with unique pieces of furniture found at Fairhaven Furniture, small figurines by Paula Whalley, and small paintings by her grandchildren.