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Framingham public art installation reflects the diversity of the community

A girl standing defiantly in front of a bulla parade of colorful cows dotting the streets of the city and the often photographed i amsterdam sign are all public art installations that reflect the communities around them – art is defined by the city, and the city may one day be defined by art.

Now Framingham has its own slice of local culture on display in the form of more than 30 fiberglass heart statues which are being installed at various locations around the city this week.

The designs of each of the hearts were decorated by local artists, including 10 Framingham high school students and their teacher. Artists were encouraged to tap into their unique perspectives and celebrating ethnic and cultural diversity in the city, according to Stacey David, project coordinator for the Framingham Center Common Cultural District.

Bella Rose Cefalo, 6, from Sudbury takes photos of one of 32 statues in the Framingham Center Common Cultural District's

“I hope people are excited to see themselves – whoever they are – reflected in art,” David said.

The project itself is called “Many Cultures, One Heart”.

Organized by the Cultural Quarter, the art installation was celebrated with an artists’ reception on Friday evening and a multicultural festival on Saturday. The project was supported by many organizations, including Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers, the Mass Cultural Council, the MetroWest Visitors Bureau and Access Framingham. Also access Framingham make a documentary about the project.

The heart that will stand in front of City Hall will look like two clasped hands, with the word “Welcome” in more than 70 languages, including Braille and American Sign Language, which David says hopes “everyone will feel seen, heard and welcomed”. .”

One in a Million Opportunity

As an artist and art teacher at Framingham High School, Katie Mansfield has always explored why people make art, “how it impacts our world, how it impacts us, how we can use art to bring about change”, with his students.

But those conversations took on new meaning as his students worked on a project they would create together that would live on in their communities for years to come. Mansfield described it as a “one in a million” opportunity.

She said her advanced class — Brian Boneau, Dominique De Avila, Maria Julia De Oliveira, Nathan Desmarais, Ryan Kish, Megan Kwan, Jay Levenson, Katie Lee Mansfield, Vanessa Mejia, Rosemary Moore and Emily Tiger — turned into a seminar. style of meeting than a high school classroom, and the students learned a lot about brainstorming, managing materials, and scheduling.

“Not only can we talk about what it means to be an artist and put our work out there, this year we can actually put our money where our mouth is – we’re doing it now,” she said. about the class ‘participation in the project.

Their art installation will be located outside the Open Spirit in Framingham. The Edwards Street Spiritual Center sponsored their heart and each student came up with several proposals before choosing a Kwan drawing. Its design involved a collage of fabrics from around the world coming together to form a knot in the middle.

Framingham Mayor Charlie Sisitsky talks to Holliston's Sheetal Shah of dance group Mohi Parivar at the festival

“His concept was that all of these cultures come together and hold the space together,” Mansfield said, and the students researched fabrics from around the world, how they’re made and what they mean because “we didn’t just want to put in places a pattern without understanding what that pattern means to the people who created that pattern.

Artist Nayana Lafond said she relied on her Native heritage and local Native communities to guide her design decisions for her piece, as encompassing the history of the Native people of Massachusetts was no small task.

Lafond has been an artist all his life, and works extensively on militant subjects in various mediums. Working with the heart was almost like working with plaster, she says: sculpture tolerated paint well, but it was not as forgiving as canvas.

“The only real challenge was working with a three-dimensional object and painting a three-dimensional thing that curves,” she said. Her piece features portraits, so she had to create a design that would fit the curves and make sure the faces didn’t look distorted.

Lafond’s project came together as an acknowledgment of the past while focusing on the present and the future, and “talking more about positivity and moving forward, and the idea that we are here and that we have a living presence here, again,” she said. “Indigenous people, especially in Massachusetts, just want to be recognized for who we are – that we are here and that we are your neighbors.”

Lafond said she didn’t expect so many hearts when she went to drop off her own work, which will connect the project across the city.

“When we started the project we thought we would have five, maybe 10 statues – and so to have 32 is amazing,” David said. “People are really excited about the project. I think he definitely has the ability to become something that Framingham is known for.