Boston Art Commission

Boston AIR: Year One

City of Boston in collaboration with the Massachusetts College of Art and Design trained parallel cohorts of artists and cultural liaisons within City government. The first months of the program were spent building relationships and learning about the field of social and civic practice in order to enhance the receptivity and potential for success of the final three artists-in-residence projects, which were codeveloped and implemented by the artists and their partnering City departments. The cohort of artists received stipends, capacity development, training and support focused on the growth of their ability to be artists in residence, carry out civic and social practice, and generally further the goals of the City’s cultural planning process. The City hosted guest speakers, master workshops, and public lectures to aid in the thought leadership development by leveraging the experience of social and civic practice and municipal artist-in-residence veterans. 

As the culmination of the first phase, we requested proposals from each artist and a lead City partner in order to select three for implementation. Through a public and competitive selection process, the artists L’Merchie Frazier, Georgie Friedman, and Shaw Pong Liu were selected to move their proposals forward and receive a $20,000 stipend to support a six-month residency, with a $5,000 materials budget. In this way, the second phase of the program was used as a learning lab for how Boston AIR could be institutionalized in other City departments and agencies.

Boston AIR | Year one overview 

Boston Artists: Year One

L’Merchie Frazier, the Office of Recovery Services, and Office of Women's Advancement will hold quilting and poetry workshops with women in recovery.

When Women Succeed: The Quilted Path is a multi-disciplinary and public fiber art project. Ms. Frazier will collaborate with the Office of Women's Advancement and Office of Recovery Services to increase resources and awareness of women who are recovering from substance abuse.

A visual artist, performance artist, educator, and activist, Ms. Frazier is the Director of Education at the Museum of African American History in Boston and an artist in the African-American Master Artist-in- Residence Program at Northeastern University. L’Merchie Frazier’s project builds upon the mission of the Office of Women’s Advancement, the newly formed Office of Recovery Services, and Mayor Walsh’s vision for a thriving, healthy, and innovative Boston. Through workshops, her multi-disciplinary civic practice will focus on deepening relationships between the City and the recovery community.

Georgie Friedman, the Department of Neighborhood Development, and Parks and Recreation Department will work with constituents to explore new uses for neglected space in the city.

ALTERING THE CITY: VIDEO LANDSCAPE is a proposal for a large-scale, site-specific installation that will project video of natural elements on to existing architecture.To further the City’s mission of creating vibrant and equitable neighborhoods, Ms. Friedman and DND will work on site selection with a particular focus on areas in need of revitalization.

Georgie Friedman is an interdisciplinary artist whose projects include large-scale video installations, single and multi-channel videos, and several photographic series. The City of Boston has many foreclosed, in-limbo or vacant properties, such as lots and buildings. Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development wants to revitalize these properties through its Main Streets business district program and by transferring the properties to the Parks and Recreation Department. Via the Boston AIR program, Ms. Friedman’s project creates a bridge between municipal government and community organizations interested in improving their neighborhoods with public art.

Shaw Pong Liu and the Boston Police Department will lead a dialogue on gun violence and race.

In collaboration with the Boston Police Department, Teen Empowerment, and the Urbano Project, musician, and composer Shaw Pong Liu will prototype ways that music can support healing and dialogue about gun violence and race between the police and the community.

Shaw Pong Liu’s proposal Time to Listen will experiment with ways that collaborative music-making can create a different kind of time, connection, and space for healing and dialogue around the difficult topics of gun violence, race, and law enforcement practices. With Boston AIR and a police department recognized as a national leader in proactive community engagement, there is a unique opportunity to model innovative approaches to police-community dialogue on gun violence and race.


Press Releases

Mayor Walsh Announces City of Boston Receives National Endowment for the Arts Award

Released July 16, 2015

Mayor Walsh Announces Boston AIR RFP

Released September 14, 2015

Mayor Walsh Announces Selection of 11 Artists for Boston's AIR Program

Released October 23, 2015

Mayor Walsh Announces Selection of Three Artists for Boston's AIR Program

Released February 23, 2016

Boston AIR Public Presentations

Released September 2, 2016


Press Coverage

City names candidates for artist-in-residence program

By Malcolm Gay, Boston Globe | October 23, 2015

Mayor Walsh announces $1 million in arts funding

By Malcolm Gay, Boston Globe | January 20, 2016

Using art as city problem solver

By Renee Loth, Boston Globe | February 15, 2016

Artists and the city of Boston team up

By Malcolm Gay, Boston Globe | February 19, 2016

City Government the Latest to Embrace Artists-in-Residence

By Eileen Cunniffe, Nonprofit Quarterly | February 22, 2016

Boston selects three artists for its first ‘artist-in-residence’ program,

By Meagan McGinnes, | February 23, 2016

Boston Builds an Artist-in-Residence Program, Bringing Creativity to City Hall

By Heather Kapplow, HyperAllergic | February 23, 2016

Tavis Smiley’s One Great Idea Tour: Boston

By PBS | April 19, 2016

Can a violinist bring Boston police and youth together?

By Malcolm Gay, Boston Globe | July 27, 2016

Code Listen: Cracking the Police Community Divide

By Stephanie Leydon, WGBH | August 3, 2016

Could Boston offer a model for police-minority relations?

By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, CS Monitor | August 11, 2016

Harnessing the Creativity of Boston’s Artists to Build a Better City

By Mayor Martin J. Walsh, | August 24, 2016