NEFA's Creative City Announces THE SOUND By Beau Kenyon
The New England Foundation for the Arts' Creative City program announces the SOUND, a series of three public art installations created by composer and sound artist Beau Kenyon taking place throughout Boston through November. All programs are free and open to the public.
"Calling upon the tree as a metaphor for family identity and water as a symbol for migration and connection," explains Kenyon, "the SOUND explores the perspectives of young adult immigrants in a three-movement piece."
Each of the three components work together to convey a single definition of success that is rooted in family and fueled by hope and take place seven of Boston's neighborhoods: Back Bay, Chinatown, Dorchester, Fenway, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and West Roxbury. Kenyon began creating the spoken word portion of the SOUND by partnering with 826 Boston, a youth-serving literary non-profit in Roxbury. Through 826 Boston, he worked with 70 of Dorchester's Boston International High School seniors, originally from Kenya, Haiti, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Cape Verde, and many other countries. He recorded excerpts of their stories from their publication, Like the Sun in Dark Spaces: Narratives Across Generations and Continents. The first, Movement I: the SOUND [if trees were water], integrates a live soprano performance with choreographed movement of dancers wearing Kenyon's produced sound art.
The performance is programed as part of the public art exhibition Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya (commissioned by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy). The performance takes place September 14 and 15, 2018 at 6pm, located at The Emerald Necklace at the Fens (170 Park Drive, near Clemente Field, Boston). The performers move through the fog exhibition, and sound art emits via electronics within their costumes. Music and sound art composed by Beau Kenyon. Choreography by Peter DiMuro. Costumes by aricoco. Sopranos: Anna Ward and Sarah Brailey. Dancers: Allyson Esposito, Anne Brown, Michael Winward, Olivia Blaisdell, Kristin Wagner, and Lonnie Stanton.
The second, Movement II: the SOUND [from roots grew branches], is a public sound art installation where a light-emitting audio bench will be set up at five Boston Public Library branches (Chinatown, Dorchester (Upham's Corner), Jamaica Plain, Egleston Square and West Roxbury) this fall. Patrons will enter the bench's immersive arch and immerse within Kenyon's sound art featuring sound collage, music, and spoken word stories of immigration and family. The sculpture is created by Kenyon's longtime collaborator, Natalia Zubko.
The third, Movement III: the SOUND [of hope extending], is a live music and movement performance taking place at Boston Public Library's Central Branch (700 Boylston Street, Boston), October 5 and 6, 2018 at 3:30pm. Music and sound art composed by Beau Kenyon. Choreography by Peter DiMuro. Costumes by aricoco. Performed by cellists Javier Caballero and Sassan Haghighi.
"Collaboration has been a fundamental part of this project," Kenyon explains. "From the engagement and partnership through 826 Boston and Boston International Newcomers Academy to the relationships built with Peter, Natalia, Ari, Julia, and all of the musicians and dancers -- not to mention all of the leaders I have had the pleasure working with at the Emerald Necklace and BPL -- I see these relationships as being a processed-based artform in and of themselves. It's a process of mindful and intentional collaboration that we designed to produce this final work."
"Bostonians of all ages share their stories of success and hope," shares Bree Edwards, Director of Northeastern University's Center for the Arts (where Kenyon is artist is residence). "Beau Kenyon is turning them into public art. His performance Movement I: the SOUND [if trees were water] was otherworldly. It was beautiful to see dog-walkers and joggers pause to become enveloped by the performance and Fujiko Nakaya's fog sculptures on the Emerald Necklace. This site-responsive and collaborative performance represents an exciting shift in the public art landscape for Boston."
A composer and sound artist, Beau Kenyon seeks out and creates projects for interdisciplinary collaboration, innovative opportunities for audience engagement, and curiosity-driven learning models. As the Composer-in-Residence for the Boston Public Library, he composed and produced And all the men and women merely players, a 70-minute site-specific performance installation that deconstructs Shakespeare's As You Like It for an immersive week-long public performance of six musicians and five dancers that was staged throughout the Boston Public Library Central Branch at Copley Square. In addition to drawing on his musical training from Berklee College of Music (B.M. Piano and Composition) and Tufts University (M.A. Composition), he also engages his 10-plus years of experience in Montessori-based curriculum design and education leadership as well as his ongoing investigation of music cognition - most recently contributing to a publication in PLoS ONE on the relationship between musical study and Executive Function. Collectively, these passions work together to shape his fundamental approach to collaboration, partnership, and creativity.
Kenyon is currently Artist in Residence at Northeastern College of Arts, Media, and Design and Lecturer at the Northeastern University College of Arts, Media, and Design. Kenyon also works as a consultant for curriculum design and professional development; current projects include designing interdisciplinary, inquiry-based curriculum as well as a model for Social Emotional Learning for out-of-school time.
Boston is a nonprofit youth writing and publishing organization that empowers traditionally under-served students ages 6-18 to find their voices, tell their stories, and gain communication skills to succeed in school and in life. 826's services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this understanding in mind, 826 provides after-school tutoring, field trips, creative writing workshops, in-school tutoring, help for English Language Learners, and in-depth publishing projects. Each of its free programs seeks to empower students to express their ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in their individual voices.
Further Creative City projects extend into Boston neighborhoods including East Boston, Allston, and more, and feature creative expression of many disciplines including theater, music, dance, visual art, and culinary culture. Programs offer a variety of opportunities for community participation, including performances, workshops, receptions, and more. Creative City was launched in 2015 by New England Foundation for the Arts with hopes to support individual artists to enliven neighborhoods and engage communities. The grant program has awarded $445,000 to 46 projects in five rounds of applications.
In addition, Creative City has also awarded $27,000 to 27 community partners ($1,000/each) to support/collaborate with the individual artist project (more partner applications are in process now). The deadline for the fifth invitation for individual artist applications was September 25, 2017. For grant eligibility and criteria, visit https://www.nefa.org/creative-city-grant. Creative City is made possible by the Barr Foundation with additional funding from the Boston Foundation.
"Artists are important voices in community life, and it's wonderful to recognize the imagination and vision of these creative leaders," said Cathy Edwards, NEFA executive director. "We are proud that Creative City has supported over three dozen projects including public art installations, bilingual theater, murals, urban dance, story-telling, music composition/performance, web television series, and more--that animate neighborhoods including East Boston, South Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, Roxbury, Allston, and others."
San San Wong, Barr Foundation's Director of Arts & Creativity, noted that, "Creative City is supporting artists to work directly with communities. Together they are creating platforms for connection, reflection, and conversation on vital topics like immigration, religious tolerance, and gentrification. Having already reached more than half of Boston's neighborhoods, we are excited to see this model replicated in other parts of Boston."
Creative City supports individual artists, artist collectives, and artistic collaborations in all disciplines and with roots in diverse cultures, forms, and aesthetics. Grants range from $2,500-$10,000, and an additional stipend will be available for community partners to help support presentation costs. Creative City is made possible with lead funding from The Barr Foundation with additional support from The Boston Foundation. For more information about funding priorities, eligibility, and criteria, visit www.nefa.org/creative-city-grant.
The New England Foundation for the Arts invests in artists and communities and fosters equitable access to the arts, enriching the cultural landscape in New England and the nation. NEFA accomplishes this by granting funds to artists and cultural organizations; connecting them to each other and their audiences; and analyzing their economic contributions. NEFA serves as a regional partner for the National Endowment for the Arts, New England's state arts agencies, and private foundations. Visit nefa.org for more information.
The mission of the Barr Foundation is to invest in human, natural, and cultural potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, Barr focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally to elevate the arts for vibrant, vital, and engaged communities; to advance solutions for climate change; and to expand educational opportunity. For more information, visit www.barrfoundation.org.