The Artist Selection Committee of the Mather School Green Space Improvement Project is reviewing proposals to create a new green space in the northwest corner of the school property on Meetinghouse Hill. The location is at the intersection of Church Street and High Street, near the back of First Parish Church.
The area is highly visible, very active, and it serves as an important bridge between the school and the surrounding neighborhood. The lot includes an impressive granite stairway, which is set alongside paths worn into the crabgrass by kids taking shortcuts, and a couple of oversized concrete blocks that are strewn about, making for a rather forlorn appearance overall. This is where parents come together every school day to drop off and pick up their children, and it’s the only area of the extensive school landscape that hasn’t received a makeover.
The goal of the committee is the creation of a permanent public art installation with surrounding landscape improvements at the Church Street entrance of the building described above. The aim of the project is to transform the existing space and its surroundings into a more welcoming, comfortable public site and functional school entrance. It is a collaborative effort involving the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust, the Boston Art Commission, the Boston Public School Department, the Mather School Parent Council, and the Green Space Project Art Selection Committee.
The artist selection process began last year. In August, three shortlisted finalists received $3,000 honoraria for initial concept development and presentation. In March, the Artist Selection Committee will meet again to vote for the finalist. The selected proposal will then go to the next step, which is to secure the $200,000 or so needed to complete the project, which will be funded in part by the Browne Trust, a public charitable entity administered by the city of Boston.
The finalists include: Bill and Mary Buchen, of Sonic Architecture, an artist-musician team whose work invites active play and group participation planned around an outdoor learning garden; Adam Kuby, artist, whose plan is scaled to dimensions of an earlier, one-room schoolhouse, and includes boulders engraved with text of school history; Scott Constable and Ene Osteraas-Constable of WOWHAUS Architecture. Their plan features a ramp with functional sculpture and edible plants and Mather students participating in the evolution of the final design.
Last October, the three teams came to the Mather School and presented their proposals to the Art Selection Committee. Since then, the proposals have been online for community feedback. There is still time for you to help make this project a success. Please take a moment to review the proposals and leave a comment at mathergreenspace.wordpress.com. Any insights or suggestions from Dorchester residents —those who know the area best— will be very helpful to the artists, who all live out of state.
At this point, community feedback is vital to the success of the project. Your input will be relayed to the artists, so that each of them will have the opportunity to benefit from your input and incorporate changes that might improve the chances that their proposal would be awarded full funding – and another bit of Dorchester would be made better.
For more information on the project, go to urbancultureinstitute.org.