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Transformative Public Art Program

We commission several murals and temporary projects every year as part of the Transformative Public Art Program.

Applications for the third year of the program have closed.

Latest News

Latest News

Joy Agenda announced, including launch of 2021 Transformative Public Art Program

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distance whispering photo

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Cloud Lights by Pneuhaus

Call to artists for 2020 Transformative Public Art program announced

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About the program

Year One

In 2019, we released a call to artists for the first round of the program. We were particularly interested in murals and temporary projects with:

  • social practice
  • participatory artmaking, or
  • educational programming that celebrates the diversity of Boston.

We funded seven projects.

Year Two

We released a call to artists for the second round of the program in April 2020. That year, we were looking for artworks that respond to COVID-19 and provide creative approaches to public connections and community rituals at a time of disorientation and insecurity. We supported projects that were ready to be implemented immediately, and also supported the research and development of future projects.

Proposals could include:
  • New media, including web-based projects, online comics, and virtual reality 
  • Traditional media, including murals 
  • Interior installations or performances visible or audible (or both) to passersby or neighbors
  • Community-engaged cultural practices
  • Social practice, including rituals related to joy, grief, and other human experiences
  • Elements that specifically engage youth or reach non-English speaking communities (or both)

Twenty-four projects were selected as part of last year's Transformative Public Art Program. In addition, two murals that were funded through the first year of the program were completed last summer.

Other temporary public art projects

We commissioned five temporary art projects in Grove Hall in 2017. These projects were part of a City-led initiative to improve the streetscape. We wanted to create an environment that is safe, convenient, and comfortable for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. The projects included: 

  • An interactive Affirmation Station by Chanel Thervil. It was designed to uplift people by gifting them with an affirmation pin to serve as a reminder of hope and positivity.
  • A mural entitled "Afro Futurism/ Breathe Life" by Rob "Problak" Gibbs at 324 Blue Hill Ave.
  • A series of banners entitled "On the Shoulders of Giants" by Laurence Pierce at the Grove Hall Branch of the Boston Public Library.
  • A mural entitled "Powerful Knowledge" by David "DonRimx" Sepulveda at 41 Geneva Ave.
  • A mural entitled "Love Thyself" by Victor "Marka27" Quiñonez on Quincy St. 

"Afro Futurism/Breathe Life" by Rob "Problak" Gibbs
"Afro Futurism/Breathe Life" by Rob "Problak" Gibbs, photo courtesy of Chris Gaines

Year Three

Applications for the third year of the program closed on June 30, 2021. This year, the program is split into three opportunities: 

Opportunity 1

This is for artists interested in creating murals, who are flexible about location. Artists will be selected based on:

  • a written proposal
  • their portfolio, and
  • their interests.

The City will match them with a site.

Opportunity 2

This is for artists interested in creating murals that are associated with specific themes or communities identified by the City. Projects include:

  • working with the Hyde Square Task Force and community members to create a mural for Boston’s Latin Quarter in Mozart Park in Jamaica Plain
  • working with the Boston Parks Department and community members to create a mural honoring the legacy of Malcolm X in Malcolm X Park in Roxbury
  • working with a consulting team and community members to create a mural commemorating the legacy of Rita Hester and Transgender Day of Remembrance in Allston, and
  • working with Age Strong Boston and community members to create a mural at the East Boston Senior Center. 
Opportunity 3

This for artists with a specific, short-term project and location in mind. Projects can include:

  • new media
  • traditional media
  • installations or performances
  • community-engaged cultural practices
  • social practice, or
  • elements that specifically engage youth or non-English speaking communities, or both. 

Transformative Public Art Grantees

Transformative Public Art Grantees
Now projects - $5000
Now Projects - $2500
Now Projects - $1000
Later Projects - $500
Nick Cave with Now + There

Received $20,000 for the multimedia public art project "Augment".

Rob 'Problak' Gibbs 

Received $15,000 to create a mural in Roxbury.

Victor 'Marka27' Quiñonez with Street Theory Gallery 

Received $15,000 to create a mural in Newmarket.

Brian Beyung with the Chinese Historical Society of New England

Received $10,000 to create a mural in Chinatown. 

Samantha Fields

Received $5,000 for the performative project "desires not even our own".

MASARY Studios 

Received $5,000 to create "Water's Edge", a live music and projection piece in East Boston.

Levi Bedall with Pneuhaus 

Received $5,000 to create a sculpture project in the Back Bay.

Watch: Back to the Essence mural project
Credit: Arts and Culture

2020 Project Videos

Refractive Choreographies
Meghan Anderson, Urbanity Dance’s Professional Company, and MASARY Studios will carry out a series of projected “performances”. They will redefine public space through physically illuminating the buildings most impacted by COVID-19.
Lani Asuncion will carry out a public performance series that enables the connection to plants to produce sound and music.
Design Studio for Social Intervention
DS4SI will work with partners along the Fairmount Cultural Corridor. They will project live and still images by local artists onto the Strand Theatre.
Maria Fong and Krina Patel will work on a project as part of Residence Lab (ResLab). The partnership allies Chinatown residents and local Asian Pacific Islander artists to shape Chinatown’s cultural identity.
Ariel Basson Freiberg
Ariel will establish an online platform with a survey and physical "mailboxes". These will collect dreams throughout the City, and create visual representations of the collected dreams.
Storytell and Sway
Asian Community Development Corporation will launch a place for conversation, play, levity, and connecting neighbors old and new in Chinatown.
Shelter in Place Gallery
Eben Haines and Delaney Dameron launched this miniature gallery space. The gallery features original works by local artists that can be viewed digitally.
Precious Work
Laura Smith and Raquel Jimenez are leading "Precious Work". The participatory mural brings visibility to womxn's carework in Boston at this moment.
Tanabata: Star Festival
Kate Finnegan and Kaji Aso Studio will hold a virtual "Tanabata: Star Festival". The event will feature a poetry reading, artwork, and musical performances.
Maia Dolphin-Krute
Maia Dolphin-Krute will establish a project that refocuses attention on the opioid epidemic and the community that remains even more vulnerable than ever.
Heather Kapplow is leading Warmth. The public art/social practice artwork offers a high-visibility, abstracted daily report on how the City's housing-insecure residents are being treated daily.
Katrina Goldsaito and Jonah Goldsaito are working in collaboration with Beau Kenyon. They are launching an immersive, free, mobile app. The app melds Augmented Reality (AR), performance art, and community engagement in people's homes.
Sharing Grief
Ngoc-Tran Vu will lead a participatory public art project centered on collective grief and hardship awareness in Dorchester.
Mia Schon
Mia Schon will work with the Boston Public Schools art departments. She will collect hand-drawn hearts by children from each Boston neighborhood and turn them into a tiled mosaic.
Tales from Camp Strangewood
Sparkhaven Theatre is producing a weekly anthology series of six plays. The plays are infused with music that will be livestreamed.
Quarantine Self-Care Series
Chanel Thervil will create a multimedia project that highlights the ways people of color are navigating self-care, survival, and new normals as a result of COVID-19.
Distance Whispering
Liz Lamanche will create a no-touch interactive sculpture. The sculpture will make conversations possible at a distance.
Constructing Queer Community
Jo Troll will lead Constructing Queer Community. The project uses the practice of fingerknitting to bring together members of Boston’s queer community, with help from a mail service.
Chinatown Story Cart
Lily Xie and Crystal Bi Wegner will create and distribute mail-in story kits to Chinatown residents. The project will help these residents reflect on the present moment and dream about the future of Chinatown.
Smile Through the Pandemic
Daniel Lam is creating a digital comic strip to engage the community virtually through comic relief.
HipStory House Party Digital
HipStory is launching the HipStory House Party (HSHP) series, an alternative nightlife experience and platform for artists to showcase their music in an affordable and comfortable environment.

"Tale of an Ancient Vase", by Brian Beyung (2019 Transformative Public Art Project)

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