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February 22, 2016

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and his Office of Arts and Culture today announced the selection of three artists for the City of Boston's first artist-in-residence program, Boston AIR.

"I would like to congratulate the chosen artists on this accomplishment and thank them for helping us to integrate the arts in our core city services," said Mayor Walsh. "Boston AIR is just one of the many ways we're working to invigorate Boston's cultural scene and support local artists whose innovation and creativity can benefit the people of Boston."

The City received over 111 submissions from Boston-area artists in response to a Request for Qualifications. A jury of seven arts professionals, as well as MassArt and City representatives, made their selection in order to create a cohort of artists with a mix of artistic disciplines and experiences, as well as evidence of work in socially engaged practices who demonstrated potential, and who have a connection to the City of Boston. The artist cohort represented a wide variety of disciplines, including dance, film, street art, and social engagement.

Over the fall, at workshops organized by MassArt, the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, and Boston Art Commission, the artists expanded their own civic and social practice, alongside a group of liaisons from city agencies, including: Public Works, Property and Construction Management, Parks and Recreation, Veterans' Services, Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Education, Policy, Neighborhood Development, Women's Advancement, Elderly Commission, and the Boston Police Department.

"Boston AIR is one of the many ways Mayor Walsh has shown his commitment to the arts, within the framework of Boston Creates," said Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture. "We look forward to continuing to build strong partnerships and cross sector collaborations that will benefit Boston residents in this way."

All ten artists presented strong, competitive proposals which thoughtfully explored the talents, strengths, and challenges in Boston. For this first year of Boston AIR, the City is funding three artist proposals. The selected artists will be awarded $20,000 stipends for six-month residencies with a city department to develop creative approaches that can be incorporated into the work of the city. 

The winning artists — musician and composer Shaw Pong Liu, video artist Georgie Friedman, and visual and performing artist L’Merchie Frazier — will each receive a $20,000 stipend as part of a six-month residency to develop projects while embedded with various city departments. Each project will also receive a $5,000 budget.

Partnering with the Office of Women's Advancement and Office of Recovery Services. 

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.


Partnering with the Department of Neighborhood Development and Parks and Recreation Department.

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. The proposal was developed in partnership with the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND). 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.


Partnering with the Boston Police Department.

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.


The Boston AIR finalists presented their proposals on Saturday, January 23, 2016. Of the ten presenting artists, these three artists will work closely with their partnering agencies, as well as other City staff and members of the Boston Art Commission. Additionally, they will be advised by Boston AIR’s partners at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and national leaders in the arts and civic engagement. As the artists embark on their pilot residencies, the City imagines an artist-in-residence program that is dynamic and co-designed, applying the values gained and lessons learned to next year’s program.

Funding for Boston AIR is from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town grant program. The Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. Since the program's inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA has awarded 325 Our Town grants totaling almost $26 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.



Three Boston AIR Artists Announced


"Artists and the city of Boston team up," Malcolm Gay, The Boston Globe, Arts, Feb 19, 2016

Morning Edition, Local News Hour Recap, Boston's New Artist-in-Residence Program, Georgie Friedman quoted, WBUR 90.9FM, Feb 26, 2016

"Boston Builds an Artist-in-Residence Program, Bringing Creativity to City Hall," Heather Kapplow, HYPERALLERGIC, Feb  23, 2016

"Boston names three women as first artists in residence," Beth Treffeisn, New Boston Post, Feb 23, 2016

"City Government the Latest to Embrace Artists-in-Residence," Eileen Cunniffe, Nonprofit Quarterly, Feb 22, 2016

"Three Boston AIR Artists Announced," Boston Art Commission,, Feb 22, 2016

Event, January, 23, 2016: City of Boston Artist in Residence - 10 Finalist Presentations, Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, Roxbury, MA. 

After the event, watch the presentations here: Boston Art Commission on Youtube

"Mayor Walsh Announces Selection of 11 Artists for Boston's Artist-In-Residence Program,", Oct 23, 2015

"City names candidates for artist-in-residence program," Malcolm Gay, The Boston Globe, October 23, 2015

"City of Boston Selects 11 Locals for New Artist-in-Residence Program," Olga Khvan, Boston Magazine, October 23, 2015

      L’Merchie Frazier     |    Georgie Friedman       |        Shaw Pong Liu

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