Public art at Fields Corner T station provides pleasant wait for the buses

MBTA patrons exiting the Fields Corner Station on the Geneva Avenue/Vinson Street side are noticing that the bus stop island park just got a whole lot more festive and intriguing, thanks to the recent installation of some temporary public art.

On Aug. 29, the project BR+A+CE, made up of students and graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) who were joined by local volunteers, installed some Murphy-bed-like benches and tables. RISD artists planned, raised funds, reached out to Fields Corner agencies, built, and put up the Tilt-Down Fence Project.

BR+A+CE ( Building Research + Architecture + Community Exchange) created a series of seven “ladder-like woven fence decorations” that fold down into picnic tables and benches which designers hope will will “activate the space to bring communities together.” The ladder frames are made of bamboo poles lashed together with bamboo rope. The webbing that forms the surface of the fold-down tables and benches is made of Rexlace, a very popular vinyl craft lace.

BR+A+CE artists conceived of the fence as “a metaphor [the economic ladder] that has purpose – a climbing structure and a framework for adults to gather, support, and network toward upward mobility.”

Whether or not locals grasp the economic symbolism, the installation will provide a relaxing spot to sit and wait for T buses, perhaps while snacking on takeout from McDonalds or doing some homework outdoors.

The seating was designed to appeal to a wide range of residents from the elders at the Kit Clark Senior Center to the VietAID Au Co pre-schoolers.

To further highlight the existence of the Tilt-Down Fence Project. RISD organizers have collaborated with various Dorchester groups to sponsor a series of free events during the month of September.

In consultation with various organizations (The Vietnamese American Initiative for Development [Viet-AID], Fields Corner Civic Association, Bloomfield Park Neighborhood Association), the Tilt-Down Fence will be used as ground for a series of cultural and community activities such as puppet shows, potluck meals, or oral story performances that discusses the diversity and cultural contributions of immigrants in their neighborhoods. 

Every Saturday in September at 10 a.m., BR+A+CE will host a community building event often along with an arts/ performance component. On Sept. 3, the Tilt-Down Fence Project opening will be marked by a community potluck followed by enough ice cream for 120 people donated by Wendy, the owner of Chill on the Park.

On Sept. 10, there will be a Community Soul Food Lunch, with a service clinic by the Immigration Advancement Office. On Sept. 17, locals can groove to Salsa in the Park with the Human Connection Art Project. The festivities will wrap up on Sept. 24 with an appearance of giant puppets, courtesy of the Puppeteers’ Cooperative that provides those marvelous creatures for the First Night Grand Procession.

The Tilt-Down Fence is actually the second BRACE “contraption” in this neighborhood, the previous one being the Mattapan Mobile Farm Stand.  In collaboration with local health advocacy group Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition (MFFC) and Brookwood Community Farm, BR+A+CE worked to design a pedal-powered farm stand to supplement the weekly Mattapan farmer’s market.

The bicycle-powered mobile farm stand was used to transport and display eight bins of fresh produce. Aided by gas springs, its origami-like bin covers and top bin carriers hinged open in opposite directions, creating a canopied display area.

Donations to fund the Tilt-Down Fence have come from The Boston Foundation (Vision Fund Grant), The Awesome Foundation, The Boston Society of Architects Foundation, and Viet-AID, but BR+A+CE is still fundraising through Indiegogo to make up a $6,000 deficit.