Congrats are in order! We're jumping for joy that this year's Public Art Accelerator artists David Buckley Borden, Pat Falco, Samantha Fields, Dell Marie Hamilton, Cat Mazza, and Daniela Rivera have not only completed our six-month curriculum on how to create public art, but have successfully proposed projects to be executed this summer in Boston.
We couldn't be more thrilled for and proud of this group, many of whom have never taken their work from the studio to the street. This is a bold and sometimes scary move — just the kind of move we are most excited to support. With a generous gift from Joyce Linde, we are grateful to fund all six Accelerator projects for the second year running.
Last Wednesday, the Accelerator cohort presented their final public art proposals to the jury, whose final decision would determine whether each project idea was deserving of $25,000 in production funding. Jury members Karin Goodfellow, Beth Kantrowitz, Cher Knight, Leah Triplett Harrington, and (former Accelerator artist!) Ekua Holmes weighed all the considerations and questions you might expect, and one you might not: is this project empathetic?
It goes without saying that you can’t have great public art without a great location. Or a great concept. Or any number of the other nuts-and-bolts factors we cover in our Public Art Accelerator curriculum (hello, project management!). To be sure, all of these considerations were central in the jury’s decision.
But empathy is central to the practice of public art. Does the work engage its audience in a meaningful way? Is the site well-researched, and does the work engage people in a thoughtful way? Is the art sensitive to site and context? Most significantly, can the artist relate to people who might not look, talk, or act like them? That’s empathetic public art.
Along with their strength in vision and execution, the overwhelming empathy of each Accelerator artist shone through in their final presentations and guaranteed that all Accelerator participants received full funding for their projects.
As our Accelerator artists would likely tell you, the road to full funding isn’t always smooth. You’ve heard us talk all about the complex world charted in the Accelerator curriculum — from insurance to community engagement, from digital marketing to permitting — but it’s so true: this work is as complicated as it is demanding. It’s learning not just about the site through elevation maps and research, but spending time and actively listening there. It’s being able to communicate your ideas and adjusting your process after feedback and input from others. That each has accomplished so much is a testament to their hard work, adaptability, and, yes, empathy.
Most of these artists came to the program with limited public art experience. We couldn’t be prouder to fund their work, or more excited to share the details on these six new public artworks coming to Boston in 2019. Stay tuned!