This year, Now + There, a non-profit that creates temporary public art projects, introduced its 2018 theme, Common Home.
Over the next six months, two female artists and seven Boston artists completing the Now + There Public Art Accelerator will present thought-provoking projects that explore such themes as responsibility and power, memory and recorded history, and the use and enjoyment of common spaces.
“We are in this because we want public art to reach another level,” said Kate Gilbert, executive director of Now + There. “We are going to be a public art city – are you with me?”
Gilbert announced the new plans for 2018 at an event on Monday, May 7 at the Hampshire House in Beacon Hill. In its fourth year, Now + There since its inception has commissioned five site-specific temporary pieces of work and two more are scheduled for this summer. In addition, six more are coming later this year through the Accelerator Artists program.
“Our pieces have substance, meaning and support highly visible spaces that creates community engagement,” said Gilbert. “Boston wants to be a public art city. Public art educates a city and makes it more compelling to visit. We will invest in public art and see a real return. Our goal is to make Boston a public art city by 2022.”
The host of the event Audrey Foster said that public art does a lot for a city. She asked the crowd, “Why don’t we have it here and what can we do to bring it here?”
The season will begin at the Prudential Center with “Unless” by Boston-based artist Stephanie Carson. A vibrant floor-to-ceiling installation, commissioned by Boston Properties, the work will inhabit the iconic space of Center Court and engage visitors on topics of climate change and environmental justice.
The project incorporates recycled material and will showcase text from Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home, Unless” to provoke onlookers to take action toward creating sustainability, climate justice, and community investment.
The project is redistributing local resources to serve people who have experienced the current and immediate adverse effects of the climate crisis most deeply.
A lot of the budget is being used for production space at the Villa Victoria community in Boston’s South End and to fairly pay for fabrication labor by students who were displaced by last year’s hurricanes on Puerto Rico.
In June, Now + There will unveil a traveling exhibition, Open House, by nationally acclaimed Boston-born artist Liz Glynn. Glynn’s lavish Louis XIV sofas, chairs, and footstools evoke a historic, Fifth Avenue ballroom, but with a twist — these objects are cast in concrete, a populist material more commonly seen in modern architecture. With this revision, the artist invites the public to enjoy a previously exclusive interior space that is now open and accessible to all.
“The artwork will ask people who has access to common space?” said Gilbert.
Throughout the summer and fall the soon-to-graduate Accelerator Artists will produce six projects developed in, and funded by, the Accelerator.
The projects are hyper-local and site-specific and will provoke conversations about memory and loss, ancestry and homeland, and the cultivation of vacant space.
The projects will be located in Allston, Roxbury, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester and East Boston.
“Because of how we create a public art city, the bar will be set high,” said Gilbert. “All of our works are highly curated and Boston will be known as a public art city.”