Originally slated to conclude on the last day of May, an exhibit at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate featuring original work by the students from Boston International Newcomers Academy (BINcA) has been extended to the end of the summer.
The nine-panel mural installation—From Her Beacon— features colorful images of the Statue of Liberty. The idea for the project crystallized earlier this year when BINcA, composed of many immigrant students, hosted workshops focused on civic engagement and democratic participation in lieu of a regular class schedule on the day of President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration.
Hillarie Pilier, 19, one of the students who contributed to the work, is excited to know that the message of inclusion and empathy will continue disseminating in the community.
“We are together in this,” she said, referring to the uncertain political climate. “The more people that can see the work, the better.”During the art workshop in January, students were given 12-inch by 18-inch sections of a larger picture of the Statue of Liberty to paint in whichever color composition they chose.
“When the sections came together,” James Hobin, one of the art teachers at BINcA who oversaw the workshop. Hobin, a resident of Savin Hill, said, “The results were invigorating.”
Jessica Andraee, 18, another student who contributed to the murals, said that she was unsure at first how the project would come out, since every student was creating the pieces independently.
When she saw the final composition, though, she too was amazed.
“I love how everything came out,” she said.
Students at BINcA were anxious after the election, Hobin said, when it was unclear how the new administration’s aggressive stance on new immigrants would impact their lives. The day after the election, Hobin remembers, a student came into school with a picture on his phone of the suitcase he had packed the night before, as a precaution.
The kaleidoscopic effect of the murals acts as homage to the ethos that America was founded on, Hobin said, and a reminder to those students why they matter in the community.
“When the sunlight hits the murals in the middle of the day,” Hobin said, “it all looks amazing. Like the thing’s plugged in.”
Sarah Yezzi, the Education Manager at the Institute, noted that the first reactions even came before the exhibit was open to the public.
“The staff workers were in awe of it,” she said. “They’re special pieces of work, and we’re incredibly impressed.”
BINcA and the Institute had collaborated once before, during the tumultuous election season last November, when students created mock campaign posters they would use if they were running for office. The posters, which also went on display, received the same warm reception from the community as the murals have. Both Yezzi and Hobin spoke highly of the partnership between BINcA and the Institute, and said that they hope to continue collaborating in the future.
“We love connecting with the Institute,” Hobin said. “They work hard to promote the students’ art. And they’re right here, in our backyard.”Pilier echoed those sentiments, and added thoughts on the future of the talented students at BINcA. “We are going to keep going,” she said. “Expect more from us.”
There are tentative plans to present the project at the National Arts Editors Association Conference in 2018 in Seattle. At the end of the summer, the From Her Beacon murals will move be on displat at the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury and Boston City Hall. At the end of that period, the murals will find a home at their place of origin: the hallways of BINcA, where students will be able to admire their work daily.