Installation of new public artwork celebrated in Jamaica Plain
Mayor Kim Janey and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the Boston Art Commission, the Boston Public Library, and Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) yesterday celebrated a new piece of public art that has been installed at the Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library and BCYF Curtis Hall. The City of Boston commissioned Matthew Hinçman to create Wythe & Web, and it was funded by the City’s Percent for Art program.
“This new addition to the Jamaica Plain Branch and BCYF Curtis Hall is a great way to honor the strong community ties that are present in this neighborhood,” said Mayor Janey. “I can’t wait to see people interact with the artwork, and use it as a way to engage in more conversations with each other.”
The public art project complemented the renovation of the Jamaica Plain Branch, which included a 700-square foot addition facing South Street that serves as a community reading lounge, a terrace along Sedgwick Street where residents can read and mingle, a refreshed collection of 30,000 books, an elevator for full ADA accessibility, parking for over 20 bikes, and new exterior landscaping.
The total budget for the public art project was $205,000. The artwork is located on the lawn in front of the library and BCYF Curtis Hall facing South Street. It is a sculptural intervention that consists of a series of low brick walls that zig-zag across the lawn. Some of the walls are capped with brightly colored glazed bricks, and others are capped with slabs of granite. In addition to the walls, there are five bronze chairs that take their form from the vinyl webbed folding chairs found in millions of backyards and lawns.
The City of Boston highlighted several themes identified by the community for Hinçman to consider throughout his process, including the diversity and intergenerational character of the neighborhood, a community of artists and creators, a desire for artwork that is functional or interactive in some way, and the need to retain a sense of neighborhood identity.
Matthew Hinçman is a sculptor and educator living in Jamaica Plain, and is a professor of sculpture at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt). He is also chair of the Fine Arts 3D Program at MassArt. He currently serves on the board of the Boston-based nonprofit Now+There. He's best known for "Jamaica Pond Bench, 2006," and "STILL, 2014," both located in Jamaica Plain.
“I hope that it might be a bit of a destination,” said Matthew Hinçman. “I could never imagine the bench that I made at Jamaica Pond being all that comfortable, and yet, people will sit in it with their legs dangling over it and actually say ‘let’s meet at the bench’. I don’t think the lawn here, prior to the installation, held that kind of charm for folks, and I’m hopeful it might now. I hope this might be something to go check out, and a space to be in a way that it really wasn’t before.”
“Investing in local artists and bringing new public art to Boston are two goals that we are prioritizing as we work to make Boston a more culturally vibrant city,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture. “We were thrilled to support an artist with such a strong connection to the Jamaica Plain neighborhood, and appreciate all of his hard work in making this project happen.”
The FY22-26 Capital Plan allocates $15 million to the Percent for Art program. Another long-term artwork by artist Joe Wardwell in collaboration with poet Nakia Hill and youth from 826 Boston’s Youth Literary Advisory Board will be completely installed at the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library later this month. In addition to long-term public art projects, the City also allocated over $1 million to murals and other short-term public art projects and activations this year through the Transformative Public Art Program. You can learn more about public art projects underway at boston.gov/public-art.