Considering the meaning of a promise
At 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 17, 2016 the final promise of Public Trust’s journey through Greater Boston was slowly written, one letter at a time, on the marque in Copley Square. That promise, “I promise to show up,” echoed the first one posted in Dudley 21 days earlier, “I will be a better citizen.”
Public Trust, the free interactive artwork by Brooklyn artist Paul Ramirez Jonas produced by Now + There, asked us to consider the meaning of a promise during a time when words matter. From August 27–September 17, Ramirez Jonas and a team of artist ambassadors went to three Greater Boston locations – Dudley, Kendall and Copley – and collected promises from 956 Bostonians.
Regardless of age, status, or race, Greater Boston residents and tourists alike added to the Public Trust marquee of constantly changing pledges – yours, mine, scientists’, and those of our presidential candidates. Together, we created a piece of art about promises, those contracts we make with with each other and with ourselves, and the potent speech acts that keep a society together.
Public Trust was generously supported by the Lewis Family Foundation, which believes that our communities grow stronger through artistic expression, and the generous contributions of individuals like you.
Public Trust, the book, is published by APC in collaboration with Now + There with support from the Elizabeth Graham Firestone Foundation and distributed by D.A.P.
Public Trust mini-documentary by RAVA Films.
Paul Ramirez Jonas is no stranger to Boston. Born in California and raised in Honduras, Ramirez Jonas earned his BA from Brown University, his MFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989. He spent his first summer in the United States in Boston and later taught at the School of Museum of Arts/Tufts.
To engage completely with his projects, Ramirez Jonas often asks us, the participants, to contribute something: spare change, a wish…or even our own version of history. This reciprocity is a manifestation of trust and a social contract through which the viewer and artist create meaning.
His works have included large-scale monuments made of cork that allow impromptu messages to be pinned and creating new bodies of text. They’ve also included participatory pieces such as Cambridge’s Taylor Square, where he mailed 5,000 keys to the park to residents; and allowed them to shape the park’s future. This Boston based piece successfully led to Key to the City, a project presented by Creative Time in cooperation with the City of New York. Public Trust continues to build on his exploration of access, trust, and belonging.
Paul Ramirez Jonas' selected solo exhibitions include Pinacoteca do Estado, Sao Paulo, Brazil; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; and a survey at Ikon Gallery (UK) and Cornerhouse (UK). He has been included in group exhibitions at P.S.1 (NYC); the Brooklyn Museum; The Whitechapel (UK); Irish Museum of Modern Art (Ireland); The New Museum (NYC); and Kunsthaus Zurich (Switzerland). He participated in the 1st Johannesburg Biennale; the 1st Seoul Biennial; the 6th Shanghai Biennial; the 28th Sao Paulo Biennial; the 53rd Venice Biennial; and the 7th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. In 2010 his Key to the City project was presented by Creative Time in cooperation with the City of New York. The Contemporary Art Museum Houston is organizing a 25 year survey of his work to be presented in 2017. He is currently an Associate Professor at Hunter College, and The City University of New York (CUNY).
Explore Ramirez Jonas' work further by watching his October 2016 artist talk with Now + There and MassART.
In 2015, the Lewis Family Foundation expanded its philanthropy into Boston's public art arena through the anonymous support of Now + There. Their support helped us establish firm roots and helped fund our first collaboration, "Faces of Dudley."
Now, we are thrilled to announce that the Lewis Family Foundation is provided full funding for Paul Ramirez Jonas’ Public Trust. With their generous support, we are able to bring this timely project about promises to three Greater Boston locations and provide the opportunity to use art to give voice.
The Lewis Family Foundation seeks to empower young people, develop courageous citizens and leaders, level the playing field for educational and job opportunities, and create strong strategic alliances. The Lewis Family Foundation believes that our communities grow stronger through artistic expression.
Thank you to our generous supporters who contributed in the last three months to support Public Trust and more projects like it.
Max and Beth Bardeen | Bonnie Bastien | Carly Blais | Boston Properties | William Cargill | Alberta Chu & Murray Robinson | Emily Day | Mark and Janet Edwards | Larry and Cheryl Franklin | Margaret Gilbert | Suzanne Gilbert Lee | Geoff Hargadon and Patricia La Valley | Hal and Jodi Hess| Beth Kantrowitz | Jeremey Liu | Robert Mason | Harry & Melinda Miller | Greer Muldowney | Daniel Ranalli | Jennifer Schmitt | Kathy and Gary Sharpless | Beth F. Terrana | Lisa Tung and Spencer Glendon | Natalie Williams | Anonymous (2)