Mission Hill Gazette

Mission Hill Gazette, October 13, 2000
From Everyday to magical – Art Project debuts on Southwest Corridor

The night has become bright on the Southwest Corridor Park, thanks to local artists Denise Marika and Corey Tatarczuk, and the hundreds of residents who helped them plan their project- officially dubbed “Crossing Paths”
From Dusk until dawn, 10-foot-high projected photographs of area youths are displayed on three MBTA concrete buttresses between New Cedar and Heath Streets. The are bounded on one side by parking lots and the other side by abandoned buildings, one of the few stretches lacking interesting surroundings.
Marika said she liked the daily change. “The magic of the site is that during the day it’s this everyday, uninteresting scene that is transformed to something magical when the sun goes down,” she said. “I really like the idea of it going from everyday to magical.” The photos are beamed onto the buttresses by three projectors attached to lampposts along the corridor. Each projector contains six photos (for a total of 18), and the photos switch every three minutes. Young people are shown in dynamic, contoured positions in the pictures with some of the action purposefully out of view. They said this represents the boxed-in feeling that teens often experience. “We were trying to show the high energy that defines a teenager and contrast that with the confines and restrictions that challenge that energy,” Marika said. “Over all it represents the struggle between human vulnerability and the physical constrictions society puts on you- whether it’s socially, economically or other ways.”
While the photo projections are the final product, “Crossing Paths” went far deeper. For the past two years, Marika-who teaches at Mass Art – and Tatarczuk -who teaches at New Mission High- have involved area youth in art workshops, have gone to countless community meetings and have listened to numerous suggestions.
Many developers would say that meetings with the Mission Hill community is worse than enduring a 1970’s horror B Movie, but the artists said they found community involvement to be a critical necessity. “The community outreach was the most important thing in this project,” Tatarczuk said, “If you’re putting something in a community’s space, they have to be involved in the process because they will be living with it every day. That was our mandate from the beginning”
Marika said, “We did this much differently than the usual create a sculpture, drop it off and say goodbye.” Both said that the most enjoyable part of the project was the youth workshops, which were held at Roxbury Community College earlier this year. Both artists said they gathered concepts for their work from the teens’ ideas. “It was great getting them involved and sharing their vision for this project, then taking their vision and incorporating it into our final product,” Marika said.
“There is a real connection to this for a lot of kids in the area because they were involved in making it,” Tatarczuk said.
Major funding for the project came in a $40,000 grant from Visible Republic, a group of several arts organizations sponsored by the state. However, maintenance costs and insurance drove “Crossing Paths” over budget and forced the artists to scale down their plan and solicit private funding.
“Crossing Paths” has a one-year permit. After that the artists said they are open to suggestions about another project. In the meantime though, both were pleased to have brought something to Mission Hill.
“Public art is generally downtown or in Cambridge,” Marika said. “It’s refreshing to do something like this in a community that doesn’t normally benefit from public art.”