North Square Stories
North End, Boston, MA, Installed September 23, 2019
Ann Hirsch and Jeremy Angier, A+J Art+Design
North Square Stories is the pilot project for Boston’s new Percent for Art program. This addition to Boston’s landscape of public art in bronze is exceptional for the extraordinary degree of community involvement it has entailed. Along with the reconstruction of North Square, North Square Stories was named a 2020 Project of the Year by the Boston Preservation Alliance and The American Public Works Association.
This cycle of four sculptures was designed in collaboration with Boston’s North End community and included regular presentations at community meetings and consultation with an advisory panel of local people. In addition, over 50 school children contributed drawings to a sculpture about celebrating diversity and immigration through a series of workshops about families’ places of origin. A+J is building a digital Story Vault that will be layered onto one of the other sculptures, a three dimensional map, that visitors will be able to navigate through smartphones.
The artwork is sited in Boston’s oldest public square in continuous use since the early 1600’s. It embraces the depth of history layered into the Square through four diverse sculptural storylines each incorporating nautical themes as well as the idea that North Square is a small place with a big history and a big view of the City of Boston. The sculptures were made using both traditional methods and digital processes.
Each sculpture gives the viewer glimpses of stories – through windows and eyepieces, in the hidden details, and in other ways for you to discover as you explore the work. And each sculpture is also related to a particular theme that plays a part in the big story of North Square. Our four themes are the changing landscape, the surrounding sea, the people who have come and gone, and waves of immigration.
While the North End is celebrated as one of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston with a wealth of well-known historical figures, those figures have not always represented Boston’s history accurately or inclusively. North Square Stories celebrates many figures who have not been honored historically, including: Sarah Josepha Hale who founded Seaman’s Aid Society which started the Mariners House on North Square and, Onesimus, an African-born man held as a slave by Cotton Mather who was minister of the Second Church on North Square in the 17th century.
A+J Art+Design is a multidisciplinary collaboration between artists Ann Hirsch and Jeremy Angier. We share a commitment to site specificity, interactivity and community engagement. The team makes public art to provoke, entice and inspire and offers capabilities in traditional object making as well as digital visualization and prototyping.