The artwork of most Hub high school students may be glimpsed by a few passersby in school corridor display cases, but Ann Boucicaut and 10 other Dorchester residents can take pride in the fact that tens of thousands of T riders are perusing their creations every day.
This high visibility comes thanks to the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA)-funded “In Transit: Voice & Vision,” a mobile visual art exhibition by Boston high school students depicting the psychological and physical journeys of Bostonians. Displayed on trains through Sept. 4, these inspirational images can be admired on placards overhead and near the car doors in spaces usually given over to advertising posters.
The exhibition, consisting of 14 posters on the MBTA’s Orange Line, was created by 21 high school students participating in UMass Boston’s Urban Scholars program, including students from three schools in Dorchester (Jeremiah E. Burke High School, Tech Boston Academy, and Dearborn STEM Academy) as well as one in Hyde Park (The New Mission High School).
The other young Dot residents who collaborated on the project are Adilse Baessa, Jailson Barros, Gilson Dosouto, Daphtaney Morisset, Quanye Hoskins, Anny Thach, Phillip Tran, Francisco Fernandes, Jasmin Rath and Carlene Tavares.
This latest exhibition in NEFA’s Creative City Program series will have its formal opening this Saturday, Aug. 13, at the UMass Boston Harbor Art Gallery on the Plaza level (front entrance of McCormack Hall). From 1:30 to 3 p.m., project participants will meet and greet while visitors sample light refreshments and hear music by Jazz Tea with Olive Marie.
Leading the students through the poster creation process were three adult artists who work in various UMass departments: Brad Bleidt, a 2D visual artist and musician; Lisa Link, a photographer; and Suamy Ventura, a visual artist who came up with the idea to educate youngsters by collaborating with them on professional-looking site-specific art pieces.
Link explains that she and her collaborators “came up with the theme of ‘journey,’ because people are on trains, on their daily journeys to work and school. Most Boston Public School students have to take the MBTA to and from school, so Brad, Suamy, and I felt the MBTA was a great public space to showcase community-engaged artworks. Many BPS students take the Orange Line, so we chose that one.”
On Thursday afternoons from last November through May, the students worked with the adult artists to create interdisciplinary images based on their in-person interviews with Bostonians on the theme of journey. For example Boucicaut developed her poster around this comment shared by interviewee Sandy: “I believe that my personal journey impacts the world by helping them see that we are all in this together, that if I can make it this far, so can everyone.”
The staff artists began with discussions with the students on how to interview people on the theme. The kids then talked with a range of adults in their lives, including family members, teachers, and co-workers, then wrote up the interviews on their blogs. Further, the mentors organized an “inter-generational” interview day at UMass Boston for students to interview staff as well as senior citizens from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the college.
The project blog chronicles how the adults coached kids to experiment with various Adobe Photoshop layering and opacity techniques to achieve commercial quality graphics and design. Link offered this overview on the project: “We hope that MBTA patrons will be inspired and that their daily commuting journey will be more interesting. We also hope folks will recognize the positivity and creative spirit of the thousands of young people who they ride the train with each day.”