Spoke and Word

Bikes Not Bombs – Spoke and Word Newsletter, winter 2000-2001
Crossing Paths – A public art project for the Southwest Corridor Park


Two and a half years ago, local artist Denise Marika and I proposed to create a series of projections on the Southwest Corridor Park. We received a grant from Visible Republic, a funding collaborative that requires artists to work closely with the community surrounding the site of a public art project. BNB became our needed “community partner,” helping with the grant administration, providing moral support and contacts with neighborhood people.
We chose a site within the fencing that separates the Orange Line subway from the Southwest Corridor Park’s bike path. Here there are 8′ x 8′ concrete slabs, painted white that could be used for projection screens and in some places are light posts with plugs, directly across from the slab, that could be used to plug in a projector. We found suped up slide projectors that are weather proof and durable. Denise had worked with this type of technology before and I had been working within the Roxbury /Jamaica Plain community for years. It was a perfect combination; now we had to choose a project.
In order to create the artwork, we began to work with young people in the neighborhood. We taught after school photography workshops to a group of eight teens from Bikes Not Bombs and then another group of eight teens from New Mission High School. At the end of each three-week workshop the teens submitted a selection of their work to James Hull, the curator at the Gallery @Green St., a gallery adjacent to an orange line subway station and the bike path. James Hull made the final selection for a photography exhibition.
Throughout the workshops, the teens demonstrated exemplary, positive qualities, and we wanted to portray these qualities in our project. Denise and I shot hours of digital video of teen’s break dancing and then chose images that would describe each individual. The Square projection surface became a metaphor for the “box” in which young are placed in our society. Each subject’s gesture became a metaphor for every teen trying to express themselves and create their own identity within the box. The images show them pushing against the boundaries and barriers of the square frame, in some cases with a large amount of energy and motion and in others with curiosity on the edge of action.
The three projectors contain six images each that rotate every three minutes. The images will come up every night (dusk to dawn) for about a year. The teen photography exhibit ended it’s run at the Gallery @ Green St. on October 21st and will be installed next in the New England Foundation for the Arts Gallery in downtown Boston.
The Roxbury and Jamaica Plain communities were asked to take a leap of faith to support this project in its conceptual phase. Allan Morris, superintendent of the Southwest Corridor Park was a wonderful advisor throughout the entire process of gaining support and permission for the project. The Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Authority, the Terrace St. Planning Initiative, the Parkland Management Advisory Committee, Roxbury Community College, City Councilor Chuck Turner, State Representative Kevin Fitsgerald, New Mission High School, Bikes Not Bombs and countless others came through with letters, petitions and publicity in support of Crossing Paths and we thank you all.