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Each year, a Boston-based artist engages across the Eliot School’s programs to create work around a chosen theme. Second-year participants in Teen Bridge support the artist as interns during an intensive process of collaborative design, art making and community engagement.
2019 • L’Merchie Frazier
“New Urban Monuments: Stand Up Inside Yourself!”
Monuments stand to materialize memorial practices that shape the American landscape. Recent calls for the literal destruction of certain public monuments respond to ideals for American democracy. Why do these hard relics, which represent a divided America and frame challenges to democratic possibilities, remain to shape public memory in our neighborhoods and parks? How do we create new monuments that engage new ideas emerging from our communities? Through this project, L’Merchie Frazier and Teen Bridge youth will collaborate on a project that investigates these questions and engages the larger public in the process.
Community-based workshops will take place in the summer. The final work will be unveiled during Jamaica Plain Open Studios in September, and a final presentation—an exhibition, reception and artists’ talk—will take place at our partner gallery, Galatea Fine Art, in the fall. Find details on related events here.
About the Artist: L’Merchie Frazier
L’Merchie Frazier, the Eliot School’s 2019 Artist in Residence, is a public fiber artist, innovator, poet and holographer, and Director of Education and Interpretation for the Museum of African American History, Boston/Nantucket. For fifteen years she has been engaged in highlighting and curating the Museum’s collection and exhibits, in providing place-based education and interdisciplinary history programs, projects and lectures, most recently promoting STEM/ STEAM education pedagogy, and in managing the successful Faculty/ Teachers’ Institutes and their extension, The Cross Cultural Classroom, a benefit marketed to independent education entities, municipalities and corporations. Since 2007 she has designed and delivered history and art-making projects every summer with MLK Scholar high school students for the Museum of African American History.
2020 • Carolyn Shadid Lewis
Carolyn Shadid Lewis, a multimedia artist and filmaker, will be our 2020 resident artist. Her work, InterGeneration, will bring two generations together (teens on the verge of adulthood and seniors later in life) through dialog and through collaborative art-making.
InterGeneration is a series of conversations and a joint creation that will occur in 2020 between teens and their elders that enlivens memory and hope through audio recordings and hand-made, stop-motion animation. The project will bring these two generations together through storytelling, attentive listening, and a collaborative creation. The word “generation” refers to different age groups, but it also refers to art making, production, invention. Through animating stories of the past and expectations for the future, InterGeneration will initiate creative ways of seeing our current moment.
About the Artist: Carolyn Shadid Lewis
Multimedia artist and filmmaker, Carolyn Shadid Lewis, records oral histories with individuals who have a personal and political story to tell. Her interdisciplinary approach to documentary storytelling often incorporates stop-motion animation, surround sound and installation. Lewis’ art gains inspiration from her family’s military history, from her Irish and Lebanese ancestry, and from her experiences of growing up and working on military bases.
Seams, Lewis’ current film-in-progress, is an installation, a personal essay film and an animated oral history of women from Ireland and Northern Ireland who worked in Britain during the Second World War as factory workers, medical professionals, and soldiers in the British Forces. Currently part of the Women Make Movies Production Assistance Program, the film has won the support of the Irish Arts Council (2013), Cork County Council (2013) and Mass Humanities (2014).
Lewis exhibits her work nationally and internationally, including venues such as the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, Ireland, The Attleboro Arts Museum in Attleboro, MA, and The National Military Cemetery in Fort Leavenworth, KS. Her debut film, From Twilight til Dawn, won the award for best documentary at the 2015 Glovebox Short Film and Animation Festival in Boston, MA. Her awards also include a St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award (2012), a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in Film/Video (2011) and a Puffin Foundation Artist Award (2010). Lewis holds a BA in piano performance and visual art from William Jewell College in Liberty, MO. She also received an MFA from the Studio for Interrelated Media at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
She is a working artist and teacher who has taught digital media, video production, and animation courses in the Visual Communications Department of Endicott College, in the Communication Arts Department of Gordon College, and in the Studio Foundation Department of Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She lives in Jamaica Plain with her husband and with their 3-year-old daughter.
2018 – Nora Valdez, “Home/Hogar”
Nora Valdez has worked and exhibited as a sculptor and public artist since 1977. In 1982, she graduated from the College of Fine Arts (Mercedes San Luis, Argentina) with the title of Professor of Fine Arts. From the beginning, she has used sculpture and installations to create images that reflect on the nature of change, the life of the individual and the natural or societal forces that buffet our souls. Most recently her focus has been on the nature of home, the immigrant experience and roots/rootlessness. Her thematic concerns are also reflected in her involvement with the community: doing public art projects and giving workshops at a variety of institutions.
Nora kicked off our 2018 residency on the theme of home/hogar. She and our Teen Bridge youth initiated a public dialogue by exploring the questions: What makes a place home? What makes home safe, comforting? How do we create a sense of home, claim a place as home? They created an installation that illustrated these themes and collaborated with the community to tell various stories of home.
2016 − Elisa H. Hamilton and Silvia Lopez Chavez, “Lemonade Stand”
How do you turn lemons into lemonade?
Elisa Hamilton and Silvia López Chavez inspired conversations about resilience as they brought their participatory printmaking cart to four housing developments, in collaboration with our community partners:
- Boys & Girls Club at Franklin Hill
- The Nurtury at Mildred C. Hailey Apartments
- Roxbury Tenants of Harvard
- South Street Youth Center
Read their blog here.
A Creative City Grant Public Art Project funded by New England Foundation for the Arts
2013 − Beth Ireland, “Turning Around Boston”
In October 2013, we sent woodturner Beth Ireland in her mobile woodworking van to 21 different Boston Public Schools, low income housing projects, the Boy Scouts' annual Pumpkinfest and other places where children gather. There, 1,048 children each made a wooden pen or whistle by hand with Beth. In a few cases, we brought out mini-lathes for children to do some wood turning as well. Read more in the Jamaica Plain Gazette.
Beth's first visit was to South Street Youth Center, in Jamaica Plain. The Director wrote: “It was GREAT! The kids loved it. It was such a nice shift from what we’re normally able to offer and the mixture of focus, physical activity and concentration and artistic engagement was really wonderful to behold!”
We believe children benefit enormously from hands-on learning. Woodworking – “shop” – was gone from Boston’s public elementary and middle schools. Along with others, we are working to bring it back. Making things by hand changes children’s relationship to their world, teaches them real-life math and conceptual skills, and engages them in problem-solving and creative risk-taking.
By providing this taste of woodworking, we showed children, parents, teachers and principals its value – and promoted hands-on learning in our schools. Private schools have it, fancy summer camps have it. Let’s bring lifelong learning in craftsmanship and creativity to all, regardless of income or ability to pay.
Beth Ireland has become a passionate advocate of hands-on learning for all. She spent 2012 traveling across the United States in her van equipped with a mini workshop and a personal living space. She stopped at schools and art centers, in small towns and big ones, covering 25,000 miles and teaching over two thousand people how to turn wood. Jenn Moller collaborated with digital support. Ireland and Moller then traveled to Guatemala, teaching people in a small village to make windows, doors and household items out of wood.
Beth has written, “I was just going to teach as many people as I could how to make a simple wooden object. It became so much more.”
American Woodturner Journal published this article about Turning Around America in their August 2012 issue.
Read more about Turning Around Boston in the Jamaica Plain Gazette.