Beyond the Bust

The current enthusiasm for temporary and participatory public art owes much to this Clarion call of citizens and artists alike:

No more bronze statues of dead white males on horses!

There will always be people, places and events that citizens wish to commemorate. So how do we ensure that the process for choosing whom and what to memorialize is equitable?

These are just some of questions we’ll be discussing with our co-presenters Big Red & Shiny at “Beyond the Bust: Defining Our Public Monuments” on May 5, 6—8pm at Roxbury Community College.

Panelists include: 

Join us for a lively presentation followed by discussion and a reception to follow. Registration is appreciated: http://beyondthebust.eventbrite.com.

Add your thoughts and questions to the discussion using #beyondthebust + @now_and_there

Fern Cunningham, "Step On Board/Harriet Tubman Memorial," 1999. Bronze.

Fern Cunningham, "Step On Board/Harriet Tubman Memorial," 1999. Bronze.

Lara Baladi and Halsey Burgund, “Invisible Monument," ongoing. Audioscapes and app.

Lara Baladi and Halsey Burgund, “Invisible Monument," ongoing. Audioscapes and app.


Unfortunately one of our original panelists, Fern Cunningham, creator of "Step On Board/Harriet Tubman Memorial"—the first memorial to honor an African American woman in Boston—cannot attend. As she told us on the phone she has to "buckle down" and work on her commission for a memorial in Dudley Square*. We applaud Fern and her work ethic and share here some gems from our phone conversation. Enjoy!

  • On why she sticks with realism in her memorials: "They [The Boston Art Commission] have been trying to move me away from it. It's based on the need for realism for people of color. We're at a different stage. As a child my parents took me to every museum, literally, all over the world. I couldn't see any black art. I asked myself, where are we? I'm making up for lost time."
  • On Harriet Tubman and the $20 bill: "I was all psyched about it and then I read on Facebook—my husband has an account, I don't—that someone wrote an awful poem about how Harriet will forever be stuck with Andrew Jackson. How dare they steal my little bit of joy."

*Fern Cunningham is currently working on a memorial to be situated in Dudley Square, Roxbury. The content of this memorial has been in question since it was first commissioned 15 years ago due to differences of opinion within the community.