BOSTON – Wednesday, August 12, 2020 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the Boston Art Commission, today announced the City of Boston is seeking an artist or artist team to create a permanent public artwork for the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library. This is the second of two public art projects at the branch funded by the City’s Percent for Art Program.
“Nubian Square has long been a commercial and cultural hub for the area, and the Roxbury Branch library has served as an anchor to the surrounding community for many years,” said Mayor Walsh. “I think these new artworks will enliven the space even more, and will make an excellent addition to this beloved community gathering space.”
The City is currently completing a $17.2 million renovation to the Roxbury Branch. These efforts have fully modernized the facility, created a warm and welcoming environment, and enhanced its presence in the Roxbury community. The renovation includes a new welcome area overlooking a redesigned plaza; improved visibility and openness; dedicated space for children, teens, and adults; a prominently featured African-American collection; a nutrition lab and learning lab; refreshed collections; and more. The Boston Art Commission also refurbished an existing piece in the City’s permanent collection, The Word, by Vusumuzi Maduna and Obie Simonis, which was re-installed on the facade of the building.
The budget for this project is $150,000, and the call is open to all artists, national and international, with a strong preference for artists connected to Roxbury. The artwork will be located in the library’s main entrance, housing the African-American collection, and will be visible from the front entrance along Dudley Street. It is expected to be installed in August 2021.
Artists’ and artist teams’ responses to this Call should consider the recent renaming of the Building from the Dudley Branch to the Roxbury Branch and the neighborhood from Dudley Square to Nubian Square, the library’s featured African-American collection, and the theme of economic justice in their narrative proposal. The King Center for Economic Justice is exploring a formal partnership with the Roxbury Branch, and it intends to be the action component of King Boston’s two-pronged strategy to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, with the other prong being the creation of a memorial artwork on the Boston Common.
“Roxbury is home to many artists, activists and community members who have dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to enhancing our entire city,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston. “It’s exciting to be able to celebrate this neighborhood’s contributions and cultural vitality through these new projects.”
In December 2019, the City announced artist Joe Wardwell was selected to create the first project at the branch that was funded by the Percent for Art program. He is working in collaboration with local poet and former Boston Artist-in-Residence Nakia Hill, and youth writers at the YLab at 826 Boston. His project will overlook the central collections space and will be installed in late 2020.
The FY21-25 Capital Plan allocates $15 million to the Percent for Art program over the next five years. This, combined with $80,000 for temporary public art projects and several new City staff positions, is the most funding the City has ever dedicated to public art.
There will be a virtual Q&A session on September 2, and questions will be accepted until that date via this form. The deadline to apply for this project is September 9, 2020 at 5 p.m. To learn more, visit here.