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24 public art projects selected for transformative public art program

The City looked for artworks that responded to COVID-19 and provided creative approaches to public connectedness and community rituals at a time of disorientation and insecurity.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture today announced 24 public art projects have been awarded grants totaling $35,000 through the City of Boston’s Transformative Public Art Program. Two murals that were funded last year by the program will also be installed this summer in Newmarket Square and Roxbury.

“Enjoying and interacting with public art is a great way that residents of the City of Boston can remain connected to each other in a safe way,” said Mayor Walsh. “I’m thoroughly impressed by the wide variety of creative solutions our artist community has come up with to help us express ourselves during this time, and I can’t wait to see Boston become a brighter city through this program.”

The City released a call to artists in April 2020 for the second year of the Transformative Public Art Program, with particular interest in temporary and new media art projects. The City looked for artworks that responded to COVID-19 and provided creative approaches to public connectedness and community rituals at a time of disorientation and insecurity.

Project grants were awarded in two categories, Now and Later. Now projects will take place in a virtual or public-facing setting through September 30, 2020, and were awarded in $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000 grants. Later grantees were awarded $500 that will allow artists time to research and develop future projects. The City is working with artists to implement their projects in accordance to public health standards.

13 artists/groups received Now grants, including: 

  • Lily Xie and Crystal Bi Wegner, who are creating and distributing mail-in story kits to Chinatown residents as part of a “Chinatown Story Cart” project, which will provide residents of all ages with creative tools to reflect on the present moment and dream about the future of Chinatown. 
  • Katrina Goldsaito and Jonah Goldsaito in collaboration with Beau Kenyon, who are launching “ReachYou”, an immersive, free, mobile app that melds Augmented Reality (AR), performance art, and community engagement that will take place in living rooms, kitchens, and backyards across Boston.
  • HipStory, which will launch the HipStory House Party (HSHP) series, an alternative nightlife experience and platform for artists to showcase their music in an affordable and comfortable environment. 
  • Mia Schon, who will work with Boston Public Schools art departments to gather 23 hand-drawn hearts by local students representing each neighborhood of Boston and create a tiled mosaic to bring joy to patients, healthcare workers, staff, and the community at large.
  • Lani Asuncion, who will carry out Biosounds, a public performance series that enables the connection to plants to produce sound and music. 

"Boston is home. We are honored to ReachYou and to collect your stories of what it is to be alive right now,” said Transformative Public Art grantee Katrina Goldsaito. “This project doesn't exist without you." 

11 artists/groups received Later grants, including:

  • Laura Smith and Raquel Jimenez, who will create “Precious Work”, a participatory mural centering and affirming the vital role of womxn in Boston during this historic public health crisis.
  • Meghan Anderson, Urbanity Dance’s Professional Company, and MASARY Studios, who will carry out “Refractive Choreographies”, a series of projected “performances” that redefine public space through physically illuminating the buildings of organizations most impacted by COVID-19 throughout Boston.
  • Liz Lamanche, who will create Distance Whispering, a no-touch interactive sculpture that will make conversations possible at a distance.
  • Douglas Stewart, who will create an “open-air-circus” series. 
  • Chanel Thervil, who will create the Quarantine Self-Care Series, a multimedia project that highlights the ways people of color are navigating the nuances of self-care, survival, and new normals as a result of COVID-19 via interview, portrait installation, photos, and video.

“Public art can take many forms in our city, including murals, augmented reality, and performance-based works, all of which can be used to make sense of this unprecedented time,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston. “This program will help support artists who keep contributing and sharing their art and resiliency despite being especially hard hit during the pandemic.”

Six projects were funded by this program last year, including murals by Victor "Marka27" Quiñonez and Rob “Problak” Gibbs, which will be completed this summer. Marka27’s mural will be located at 95 Magazine Street in Newmarket. Problak’s mural, Breathe Life 2, has expanded to a partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and will be located at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School.

In addition to this program, the City is currently supporting artists through the Boston Artist Relief Fund, which provides grants of up to $500 to artists who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. 61 artists will also be painting City-owned utility boxes this year through the City’s PaintBox program. Mayor Walsh also committed $13.4 million over the next five years to the Percent for Art program, which allocates one percent of the City’s planned borrowing toward the creation of public art.

To learn more about public art in the City of Boston, visit our public art in Boston website.

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