Posts Tagged ‘Pep Montserrat’

Artists seem to think differently from people who aren’t artists, which is why Renée Loth likes the idea of embedding a few in government.

“Imagine a dancer working with police officers to better interpret a suspect’s gait,” she writes. “Or a musician teaching a city parking clerk how to listen deeply. Or an abstract painter rearranging a tangle of contradictory street signs. That’s the idea behind Boston’s new artist-in-residence program, which will embed local artists inside city departments to promote creative thinking about municipal government. …

“ ‘Artists are all about asking questions,’ says Julie Burros, Boston’s cabinet-level chief of arts and culture. ‘They bring a unique set of tools to solving problems.’

“A jury of seven arts professionals and partners from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design [met in February] to winnow a field of 10 finalists to three artists, who will each receive a $20,000 stipend for a six-month residency. …

“Boston is in the throes of a comprehensive planning process that is working to inject fresh ideas into city transportation, housing, and zoning policies. Burros is directing the city’s two-year cultural plan, Boston Creates, and is a prime force behind the artist-in-residence program.

“But Boston is hardly in the vanguard of this approach. The concept dates back to at least 1976, when activist Mierle Ukeles accepted a nonsalaried position as the first artist in residence of the New York City sanitation department.

“Over the decades, Ukeles created artworks that engage questions of nature, class, and culture; her ‘Flow City,’ a video installation at a Hudson River transfer station, confronts visitors with their own role in the massive waste management task of city government. Environmental education is a dull, dutiful business — until it’s in the hands of a performance artist. …

“In 16th century Europe, wealthy rulers of church and state often commissioned artists to live and work in their courts — you might say that Michelangelo was embedded in the Vatican. Today’s artists in residence may not paint the ceiling of City Hall, but they will surely contribute to Boston’s renaissance.”

More at the Boston Globe.

Art: Pep Montserrat for The Boston Globe

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