Temporary Public Art Installations
Francisco Alarcon (2019)
Alarcon was the 2019 Computational Artist in Residence for BU Spark!, a collaboration between the BU Arts Initiative, Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering, BU Spark!, Innovate@BU, School of Visual Arts, and the College of Fine Arts. The residency was immersive, providing opportunities for both faculty and students to explore the creative process with and around computational science. Alarcon is a practicing artist, and has been trained in both architecture and as a civil engineer. During his residency, Alarcon’s work could be temporarily found in the George Sherman Union, the Hariri Institute, and in the Rajen Kilichand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering Lobby. Learn more about Alarcon’s residency here.
Florian Dombois (2013)
For four nights in October 2013, a laser installation titled uboc No. 1 & stuVi2 connected Boston University’s Law Tower to the student residence Student Village 2, or stuVi2. German artist Florian Dombois created the installation for nonprofit TransCultural Exchange’s Conference on International Opportunities in the Arts: Engaging Minds. The laser not only connected the two towers, but functioned as a range finder, which measured the distance — the architectural and geophysical dialog — between the two, and in real time, project their movements onto a small screen.
Florian Dombois studied geophysics and philosophy in Berlin, Kiel, and Hawaii. He founded the “Institute Y” for transdisciplinary exchange between the arts and research and teaching. He has served as a professor at the Zürich University of the Arts in Switzerland since 2011. He has shown widely nationally and internationally, including at the Kunsthall Bern, Kunstmuseum Bern, Bünder Kunstmuseum Chur, ZKM Karlsruhe, Museum Ludwig Koblenz, Fundació Suñol Barcelona, Riga Art Space, and CIC Cairo. He received the German Sound Art Prize in 2010 and 1st Place Kunst am Bau, Kantonsspital Winterthur in 2015.
FDA Spoon – Domenic Esposito (2019)
FDA Spoon is one of four spoons created by Esposito, an artist and activist, as a protest intended to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic and spur accountability among doctors and pharmaceutical companies who manufacture and prescribe the drug. Since first installing the initial spoon (Purdue Spoon) in June 2018 in front of Purdue Pharma in Stamford, CT, he has produced new editions of the sculpture. The FDA Spoon, which was on view on BU’s George Sherman Union Plaza, was first placed in front of the headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, DC, as part of a larger protest in April 2019 against what opioid activists perceive to be government inaction. This was the sculpture’s first installation on a university campus and was installed at BU from October 12th to 24th, 2019. You can learn more about bringing the FDA Spoon to campus here.
The Opioid Spoon Project at Boston University was initiated by Gregory Williams, Associate Professor, Department of History of Art & Architecture, to coincide with his Fall History of Art & Architecture course, “Contemporary Art, Politics, and Activism.”
Watch the time-lapse installation of Esposito’s FDA Spoon below:
Alexander Golob (2013)
The title of Alexander Golob’s (’16) mural, Kaleidoscope, can be seen as a tool– a way of viewing BU’s campus. Through its use of angular, faceting shapes and wide-ranging colors, the work depicts easy to recognize buildings and landmarks from BU’s campus along Commonwealth Avenue. The mural was co-sponsored by the BU Art’s initiative. Public input was a part of the mural’s conception, with community meetings and student government playing a role in the work’s proposal and execution.
Re-Birth – Sheila Pree Bright (2020)
Sheila Pree Bright comes to Boston University with an installation of her work titled Re-Birth in the Boston University Mugar Memorial Library from October to December 2020. Re-Birth, timed to coincide with the 2020 presidential election, addresses themes of equity and access; particularly concepts related to the democratic process, voting rights, institutional change, racism, and equitable representation in keeping with the pedagogical mission of Boston University Libraries. This installation was conceptualized through conversations with BU community and research within the BU Libraries collections. The installation consists of oversized photographic prints of young women from Pree Bright’s 2008 series Young Americans, overlaid with video projection of text taken from archival research and Boston University student interviews.
Learn more about the installation on our website.
Hostile Terrain 94 (2020/2021)
Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94) is a participatory art exhibition organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), and brought to Boston University by the College of Arts & Sciences and the BU Arts Initiative, with support from Latin American Studies, the College of General Studies, BU History Department, BU Archaeology Department, and the BU Hub. The exhibition illuminates the humanitarian crisis occurring at the United States’ border, a crisis that has claimed over 3,200 lives since the 1990s and continues to do so each and every day.
The installation is on display in the George Sherman Union, 2nd Floor landing from September 3 through December 2020. To learn more about the project, please visit our website.
Watch the time-lapse installation of the grid for Hostile Terrain 94 below:
Caution: Cultural Emergency – Erin Genia (2021)
Indigenous artist Erin Genia, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, comes to Boston University with an installation that explores the concept of cultural emergency, which was developed during her artist residency with the City of Boston’s Office of Emergency management. Genia created the Cultural Emergency Response framework to examine and implicate cultural roots of a vast array of interconnected and existential crises using methods and materials of emergency management, translated through a critical Dakota lens.
The installation consists of an earthen sculpture of the water monster, Unktehi, that emerges from the ground, showing the layers of fill beneath our feet, illustrating the relevance of ancient and ever-present stories that shape peoples’ relationships to land, water and life systems. A flag bearing the Morningstar, powerful Dakota iconography illustrated in fluorescent colors, flies above to draw attention to the land as a cultural emergency ground zero site.
During Boston’s rise as a colonial city, as Indigenous people were being ethnically cleansed from this land, the site Boston University occupies – a salt marsh and estuary of the Quinobequin river system – was being filled in to make way for development by settlers.
As the threat of impending sea level rise grows as climate change advances, this work explores the impacts of colonialism on the present moment. What are the harmful philosophies that drive the systems, institutions and individual behaviors of people that were set into motion by colonization? And, what can we do to address our current state of cultural emergency?
This project was supported by a Transformative Public Art grant from the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.
MASHQ & Winter Dreams by Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag)
Internationally known artist Elizabeth James-Perry is enrolled with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head -Aquinnah in Massachusetts. James-Perry makes distinctively robust and textured wampum shell jewelry, porcupine quillwork, and northeastern twined textiles. She creates substantial heirloom quality adornment items reflecting her Algonquian diplomatic heritage.
Her first piece on display features a map of Massachusetts overlaid with the faint outline of a bear. Black bears were very common here, and their populations may be rebounding in areas where there is enough human tolerance, space, and natural resources like healthy fish to support them. For this map she chose to realize the Southern New England landmass as a bear to point to the Native attitude to the earth as a living being that is worthy of our respect, and care. Place names like Sinnechetaconnet, Pocutahunk, Assonet, Monponset are descriptive village names in the closely related Indigenous languages here: Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Mahican, Narraganset/Niantic, many of which later had the newcomers towns and cities planted right on them. And they were renamed for places in England. In using Native placenames, she reclaims Native space in the northeast. James Perry also creates a traditional wampumpeak belt.
The traditional wampumpeak belt is fashioned to look like the old style large belts; spare in design, with a lot of open space. They have a quietly expansive feeling of light on the open ocean, or perhaps light upon fields of snow. The male and female keepers of such pieces here in Massachusetts knew the stories and events very well by memory, and were not all depending on complex symbols to recall traditional knowledge and diplomacy at large gatherings or ceremony. Such wintertime gatherings for storytelling were common when there were many tribal communities in a region criss-crossed by well-traveled paths.
Home – Kabita Das (2022)
Kabita Das (CFA ’20) created the Home Reconstructed Installation which is an interactive installation both digital and physical that offers the viewers the opportunity to dissect their idea of a home in order to better understand how they move through space.
Everyone carries with them an idea of what home is based on their own upbringings and their past experiences and this idea changes as they move through life. When an individual builds a place to live, they physically represent the moments and the memories they cherish most and that they choose to carry with them. As people have unique backgrounds, the makeup and structure of their homes is unique as well. However, the single unifying factor is that these homes are inextricably tied to their own life.
Halle Cooper (2022)
BU Senior Halle Cooper (CAS ’22) created and led the BU ESO Mural project. Cooper wanted to highlight the destructiveness of climate change and environmental justice. Awash in neon hues, the mural depicts thick, curling lines weaving through Earth’s ecosystems. The sky sweeps into the mountains, going from blue to green to orange as it flows into forests, grasslands, and the ocean. Cooper wanted to highlight the celebration of the different cultures that have had a positive, sustainable, and respectful relationship with the environment rather than a narrative of anthropogenic destruction. Art is a powerful communication tool that can lead to lasting relationships between students and Indigenous communities.
The mural was designed in consultation with Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate/Odawa), and created through a collaboration between Keeley Bombard, the Environmental Student Organization (ESO), The Urban Gardening Initiative (TUGI Boston), Ty Furman from The Arts Initiative, and Orpheo Speer (Tewa/Apache/Diné), the Director of the Community Service Center. Members of these groups and of the greater Boston community painted the mural in April 2022.
Grow Your Future (2022)
Grow Your Future raises awareness on sustainable architecture as a means to fight climate change while motivating students and beautifying the surrounding area. This public artwork promotes the need for sustainability not only in architecture, but in every possible field in the BU community.
BU Academy Mural (2022) by Sitarah Lakhani (BUA ’22)
The mural, by Sitarah Lakhani BUA ’22, showcases the women of the BU community, with a special nod to those in the fields of STEM, while incorporating elements of nature found nearby. Lakhani was mentored and assisted by local muralist Amanda Hill. Financial and administrative support for the mural came from Boston University Academy and the BU Arts Initiative.
Everyday Rituals of Care: Parenting with and Beyond Cancer (2022)
In partnership with Sargent College Department of Occupational Therapy and the BU School of Visual Arts Print Media & Photography program, the BU Arts Initiative is honored to present Everyday Rituals of Care: Parenting with and Beyond Cancer on the second-floor landing of the George Sherman Union (775 Commonwealth Ave.). This exhibition is one part of a year-long project led by Robin Newman, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy and Toni Pepe, Assistant Professor of Art, Photography during which OT students and Photography students will explore more than 100 images analyzing the image and corresponding text through both the clinical and artistic perspectives. In the Spring semester, there will be a second exhibit in the College of Fine Arts of additional works along with panel discussions on the intersection of art, medicine, and health.
These images represent aspects of daily life while parenting with or beyond a cancer diagnosis. Their photography captures the brief, beautiful moments that exist while going through life-changing circumstances.
To raise awareness regarding the global issue of textile waste, the BU Arts Initiative is pleased to present Aftermath. This environmental and public health sculpture is a large-scale art advocacy installation that explores the serious impacts of textile waste. The installation includes dozens of facts about textile waste and toxicity, and a bioreactor simulation in which visitors can insert a piece of clothing and discover what toxins and gasses it releases. The work has been on display at the Boston University School of Public Health, the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College, and the Smithsonian Museum of American History. This immense project was developed by Dielle Lundberg, MPH (SPH’ 2019) and Julia DeVoy, PhD, MTS,MBA alongside artist and Boston College professor Mark Cooper.