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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Arts: On The Point and In The Community

Arts: On The Point and In The Community

According to Wendy Baring-Gould, Director of Education and Community Outreach for Arts on the Point, a number of projects involving both the campus and the community are in the works for the year 2003.

In March, an exhibition of drawings by Bill Tucker, internationally recognized sculptor of Three Gods, Hero At Evening, and Vishnu (which have all graced the UMass Boston sculpture park) will be on display in the gallery on the 5th floor of the Healey Library. Tucker is primarily known for his sculptures, but, says Baring-Gould, “He, in fact, is an incredible draftsman.” Tucker’s drawings have recently been exhibited in New York, and one of his sculptures is currently being installed in the new Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa. The show here on campus will feature drawings and models of that piece, as well as many drawings from his New York show.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Tucker will give an Art/Talk on his work. There will also be a small gathering for local Boston sculptors interested in meeting the artist. Said Baring-Gould of the upcoming show, “To bring that caliber of work onto this campus is pretty exciting.” Tucker’s work will be on display throughout the month.

The Art/Talk series will continue through the spring with curator Carole Anne Mehan on February 12. In April, Arts on the Point will bring two of the makers of the fantasy coffins from Ghana to be artists-in-residence in the Harbor Art Gallery. The coffins, which refigure the traditional coffin form as fanciful vehicles for the afterlife, and are made from hard woods and other materials more suited to the climate of Africa, have deteriorated over time due to the non-climate controlled environment of the university campus. Theophilus Nii Anum Sowah, who created all but one of the coffins on campus, will be repairing the coffins in the gallery and “if time allows, perhaps making one that will be added to our collection.” Sowah, who works primarily with building the coffins, will be accompanied by one other who will focus on the painting of the pieces. The artists will give a gallery talk, and will be available in the gallery for students to speak with them as they work on the restoration of the coffins. “We’re imagining a very informal opportunity for them to talk with folks and for folks to talk with them,” said Baring-Gould.

Arts on the Point is working on a way to make the restoration process transparent to viewers, perhaps through text panels or a chalkboard charting the progress of the day.

The artists usually work with traditional African materials, and do not use power tools. One particularly interesting aspect of this project for Baring-Gould will be seeing what local materials the artists will use to supplant their traditional materials. “I’m thinking about the shopping trip to Home Depot and it just completely blows my mind.”

When the coffins are restored, some of them will packed up and shipped back to their original home in a gallery in Los Angeles. Further precautions will be taken with the other coffins to ensure their preservation, such as mounting them on the walls to avoid possible damage caused by movement during cleaning.

In June, Arts on the Point will host another exhibition in the Healey Library, which will showcase the culminating work of an after-school program in Dorchester called Arts A La Carte. Baring-Gould called the Arts A La Carte program, “one of the best ways for Dorchester kids…to develop a portfolio of work that is sufficient to get them into [college art programs].”

“We are delighted to be able to host that show as a way, in part, to get those kids here and have them feel comfortable with being here and understand what is here,” said Baring-Gould.

Arts on the Point is involved in several off-campus projects as well this year. Also in conjunction with the Arts A La Carte program, Arts on the Point with be launching an off-campus Mentoring Program in the Dorchester community. Said Baring-Gould, “In talking with people in the community who are trying to develop an interest in the arts in high school kids, one of the big questions is, ‘where do they go, what do they do?’ Many of these kids would be the first members of their family to ever consider going to college, and there is no road map.”

For the past two years, Arts on the Point has been talking with Arts A La Carte and the Colonel Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester about ways to encourage high school students with artistic talent to pursue their interests.

Baring-Gould explained, “It seems so criminal and pathetic that kids who are interested in studying art, who live half a mile west of here, don’t know that they could come here and study art.” The Mentoring Program was developed to address that issue. The program will involve pairing sophomores and juniors in local after-school arts programs with UMass Boston Art Majors, who would be paid for their involvement. The high school kids would come to the UMB campus ten to twelve times a semester to get a look at the studio spaces here and get a sense of what the campus community is like. Round table discussions will enable UMB students to share their own experiences with the high school students, as well as provide a forum for the high school students to voice their own concerns and questions.

The effort will be made to “try to give them the sense that other people have gone here before, and that this is imminently doable,” said Baring-Gould.

The components of the program will be developed in consultation with Arts A La Carte seniors, building on their ideas to create a program designed to meet the needs and wishes of high school students. As Baring-Gould put it, the program will be a way for Arts on the Point to strengthen their relationship with Arts A La Carte and “to pave the way for other projects in the future.”

Arts on the Point is developing an expanded plan for the program that would add on to these original components an opportunity for the families of the involved high school students to come to the campus for an evening, to familiarize themselves with the campus and ask questions. The expanded plan would also include a financial aid component and the pairing of students with college English majors to provide direct help in writing college applications.

The Mentoring Project has been made possible as a pilot program for this year by a grant from Chancellor Gora from the discretionary fund. This grant has also assisted Arts on the Point in funding the artists-in-residency program for this spring. “We take it as a huge vote of confidence in our work,” said Baring-Gould, “and are incredibly grateful.”

Other projects are also in the works for the upcoming year. Anne Torke, film and video teacher at UMB, will hold a residency at the Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club. This residency is the continuation of a series of residencies sponsored by Arts on the Point. Last Year, Laura Baring -Gould worked with the community to beautify the William Meaney playground in Dorchester. The year before, quiltmaker Clara Wainwright held a similar residency at Harbor Point. “The core of our mission is to create opportunities where faculty and students from here actually work in the community,” explained Baring-Gould, “So the community comes to know them and understand them, and knows that we are here and they could…apply and come here.”

The after-school arts program at the Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club has had some trouble keeping teenagers interested in traditional art forms like drawing and painting. In response, Torke’s residency will help create a video production program for the students that “hopefully will be a little more appealing, a little more immediate.”

The inspiration for the program came from The Cambridge Community Arts Center, an after-school program for kids in Cambridge, who initiated a similar program called the “Do It Your Own Damn Self Video Festival” for students to create their video projects, which has blossomed into a national competition. Torke will be working with ten students two evenings a week to develop public service announcements that, when completed, will be projected on the outside of the Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club on Dorchester Avenue on Dorchester Day. Torke will be assisted by UMB students who have taken on the project as independent studies.

Arts on the Point is busy negotiating funding for this project. One possible avenue for financial support may come in the future from the newly developed Media and Technology Center at CPCS here at UMB.

Arts on the Point also hopes to work with the Harbor Point Community Partnership, founded by Hubie Jones as a way to build a community of the institutions on Harbor Point, in the effort to make the area more integrated, inviting and visually pleasing.

Throughout the upcoming year and beyond, Arts on the Point plans to continue its mission of bringing together students and artists, and of integrating the UMB campus with the surrounding community.