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Boston Arts Academy Public Art Projects

Two long-term public art projects will complement the construction of the new Boston Arts Academy building in Fenway.

The City commissioned MASARY Studios for interior artwork at the new building. Simon Donovan and Ben Olmstead were commissioned for exterior artwork.

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Project timeline

Step
1
Application open
Step
2
Artist selection
Step
3
Contracting
Step
4
Design
Step
5
Fabrication
Step
6
Installation

Project details

Project Context

Boston Arts Academy is Boston’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts. It provides a diverse student body access to a college-preparatory arts and academic education. 

The total project budget is:

  • $300,000 for the interior site, and
  • $200,000 for the exterior site, including fabrication and installation.

These projects are funded through the City’s Percent for Art program. They complement the City’s $125 million construction of a new building for Boston Arts Academy in the Fenway neighborhood. The state-of-the-art facility at 174 Ipswich Street will include:

  • dedicated rehearsal and performance spaces
  • gallery space
  • studios for music, visual arts, and fashion design
  • academic classrooms, and
  • recreation areas, kitchens, and student commons.

Exterior rendering of new Boston Arts Academy building

Project Site

The interior project site is a monumental stairway. It runs from the first to second floor in the center of the building, near the front entrance. The exterior project site is at the corner of Ipswich Street and Van Ness Street, on the public sidewalk.

The school is located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston. This area is part of the Fenway Cultural District. There are many cultural and educational institutions within walking distance, including:

  • Berklee School of Music
  • New England Conservatory
  • Massachusetts College of Art + Design
  • School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts
  • Emerson College
  • Fenway Park
  • The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and
  • Frederick Law Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace of parks.

Interior rendering of new Boston Arts Academy building

Commissioning Process

The City released a Call for Artists for both projects in October 2019. Several artists were invited to interview with an Artist Selection Committee. The Committee was comprised of:

  • representatives from the Boston Art Commission
  • local arts professionals representing the neighborhood, and
  • professional and student end-users of the project site. 

The Artist Selection Committee selected:

  • MASARY Studios for the interior artwork, and 
  • Simon Donovan and Ben Olmstead for exterior artwork. 

The Boston Art Commission voted to approve both artists for the commissions.

Design Phase

The artists were encouraged to consider Boston Arts Academy’s four shared values in their artwork:

  1. Community with social responsibility
  2. Diversity with respect
  3. Passion with balance
  4. Vision with integrity

The projects must also include a robust educational component in their processes. 

There are also several existing artworks at the site:

  • "Dream Catching" by Wen-Ti Tsen will be sited in an internal stairwell. It will be visible from the school’s primary entrance and from the commons area around the monumental stairway.
  • "Teammates" and "Carl Yastrzemski" by Antonio Tobias Mendez, and "Ted Williams" by Franc Talarico are across Ipswich Street. They are visible from the school's entrance.