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Waterfront Wednesdays Ep. 14: Arts on the Harbor

Waterfront Wednesdays Ep. 14: Arts on the Harbor


Hi everyone, I’m Alice. And I’m Ola. And this is Waterfront Wednesdays brought to you by… Boston Harbor Now Ola, welcome to Waterfront Wednesdays. I’m so glad to be here. I am so excited that you’re here today, and that you are going to be working with Boston Harbor Now all summer on some cool programming. Absolutely! This summer, I was the co-organizer of the Arts on the Edge cruise, and I’m working with the harbor artists-in-residence. And we are talking to you
today about harbor art, about stuff you can find around the harbor, and how art
continues to inspire artists. And how artists can use a variety of mediums to give people fresh perspectives, and the harbor on the water, generally, and about
islands, and about climate change. And we’ll suggest some places you can go check it out, on the Harborwalk and on the islands. But let’s first talk about
the Arts on the Edge cruise. Alright, sure. Well early July, we had a nearly dozen performing artists, including Destiny Polk, Billie Dean, and Veronica
Robles. They joined us for a 90-minute cruise trip around the harbor. And of the about dozen or so cruises that Boston Harbor Now produces for different community
groups, this is one of my favorites. It’s such a broad cross-section of
people. Oh yeah, it was great to see some Boston creatives mixing with regular folks, who just wanted to enjoy a cruise on a beautiful day. But it wasn’t just an average boat ride.
Even on land, it’s rare to get a diversity of performers like
this, but organizing things like this is part of what you do. It’s true. I have helped to organize lots of music, poetry and visual art projects around Boston,
particularly ones linked to community organizing and social justice. I’ve worked
with Carolyn Lewenberg before on projects like the Art Grove, which is part
of the Franklin Park Coalition. And so you like connecting people to parks, bringing artists into public spaces and green spaces… What was different
bringing people out onto a boat? It’s a space that not everyone has access to, and opening up spaces like that, making something that’s, basically, welcoming and more accessible. That’s awesome. And you’re doing that as well on the islands, you’re taking on a
new curatorial challenge. Oh yeah, that’s right. We’ll have three artists working on the islands this summer. Brian Sonia Wallace is doing the
Typewriter Island. He’s mostly going to be on Spectacle and Georges and ferries, transforming stories to tell into his poems. And that’s something that artists have done on the island before. Ryan Edwards spent, two summers ago, spent time on Spectacle Island and he went out and he recorded just
different sound bits, and he took all these audio recordings and he composed a work of music from those little snippets. Yeah, and I think that we’ll see more of
that with Robin MacDonald-Foley on her quilting project on the islands. She
really is taking stitches of squares and taking people to embellish on Peddocks and Spectacle. And it’s interesting, some of the artists sort-of want every person to
interact with them, and they’ll capture whatever comes out, but other people are
trying to tell a really specific narrative. So last summer, the musician
Carol Washington composed a work called ‘In the Harbor, Freedom Sings,’ and it was really about telling a metaphorical story of the African-American and Indigenous experience out on the harbor islands and in the harbor. Yes, similarly, Marsha Parilla, a multidisciplinary dance theater artist,
she’d be working with members of the Nipmuc, Massachusett, and Mashpee Wampanoag communities to tell us the historic and contemporary history of
Native Americans on the island. I can’t wait to hear and see what each of them
produces. I’m looking forward too. I mean, Georges Island, that is the place. And you were there as a kid… Yes, most definitely. I mean, I remember going there and getting on the ferry with the big water and I was scared because I
couldn’t swim. So now as an adult, and curating projects around the Boston
Harbor, it’s a great way to bring people together, and it’s so inspiring. And there’s lots of art to be found on the harbor even without the artists-in-residence, cool as they are. You can go out to Spectacle Island on a Sunday
afternoon and hear live music on the porch that’s there on the visitor center. – Yep. And then there’s also musical performances incorporated into the Summer Nights on Spectacle, which are happening on Saturdays this year. Yes, that’s cool. And there are projects around the harbor that you can access
without even getting on a boat. I mean, I didn’t even know about the Harborwalk
until I started working with Boston Harbor Now. Yeah, um. There’s one particular place on the Harborwalk that’s really well-known for art: the
Institute for Contemporary Art, or the ICA. Yes, and it’s the first building
built in the Seaport. Yep, just Moakley Courthouse was there
when it went up. They started with their collection inside, and then they started activating the Harborwalk with music and arts outside.
And then this fall is the first time they’re gonna bring an installation from
inside the museum out onto the Harborwalk. And then last summer, they opened
the watershed space over in East Boston. Yeah, that space is so cool.
My husband is an iron worker who worked there at the shipyard for years, and it’s
so great how they transformed the space, and picked up the vibes of the
community for East Boston. Yeah. This summer’s exhibition, called ‘Purple’ by John Akomfrah, is a six-screen video installation that explores themes around
climate change and water. And it’s really amazing to see it in that space, so close
to the Harborwalk, and then also in a way that’s just really different from
the way the media talks about these issues, or even advocacy conversations. That’s right. That is the power of artists. We interpret what you might take
for granted, and around you right now. And I’m really grateful for the way they do
that. And with that, thanks for tuning in. I’m Ola Akin. I’m Alice Brown. And you can follow me on Twitter: @olascoboston Or at: @ferryfaerie And if you like this video, please share with friends or subscribe to the YouTube channel. You can throw us a like, or leave a comment below. Tell us about an artist on the Harborwalk or on the islands that inspired you, or something that you produced. And we hope you’ll be inspired.

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