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Emerson Campus to Become Boston Canvas

The Little Building will become a giant canvas on December 1. Photo/Elkus Manfredi Architects

Starting this Friday, Emerson’s Little Building will become a giant canvas for faculty, students, and community artists as a series of visual and media art installations are projected onto the residence hall’s façade, part of the College's ongoing effort to reanimate its corner of the Common.

The Emerson College: Uncommon Project, a large-scale projection mapping showcase, will be visible from Boston Common and the surrounding area for several months while the Little Building undergoes a complete renovation. It will be unveiled Friday, December 1, at 7:30 pm.

In addition to adding to the city’s public art scene and providing an outlet for local artists to exhibit their work, the Uncommon Project is intended as a launch pad for Emerson’s efforts to reinvigorate the Boylston Street corridor and make it a destination for Boston residents and visitors alike. Future plans include widening sidewalks along Boylston and adding retail to the Little Building.

“The Uncommon Project illustrates the creativity, artistic excellence, entrepreneurial spirit, inspiration, and influence that animate our curriculum and experiential programs,” Emerson President Lee Pelton said in a message to the community. “It will provide the public with a first-hand experience of the vibrancy of the College.”

Projection mapping uses specialized software to project images and video onto non-flat surfaces such as buildings or trees, creating a three-dimensional effect. It’s often paired with audio and was featured during Boston’s ILLUMINUS festival, held earlier this month in Downtown Crossing.

The College has partnered with the Emerson Urban Arts Program and the Public Art Think Tank (PATT) in coordination with the creators of ILLUMINUS, to create the project. The artwork will be curated by Emerson’s Foster Chair in Contemporary Art and Distinguished Curator-in-Residence Joseph D. Ketner II.

Early Emerson exhibitors in the project will include Visual and Media Arts Professor John Craig Freeman, a public artist with more than 20 years of experience in using emergent technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to create large-scale public work, and Distinguished Executive-in-Residence Patrick Farrell, who won two Pulitzer Prizes for his photojournalism while at the Miami Herald.

In the spring semester, a new Partnered Studio course, Projections on a Large Scale, will allow students to study the history and theory of projection mapping, and design their own works that will be considered for display on the Little Building.

Other area artists slated to exhibit work for the Uncommon Project include musician, photographer, and video artist Pamela Hersch; multimedia artist Devon Bryant; interactive creative artist and open source software developer Cindy Sherman Bishop; Robert Maloney, an assistant professor at MassArt; dancer/choreographer Callie Chapman; digital media artist Sam Okerstrom-Lang; architectural designer Katherine Chin; and multimedia artist/animator Jason Lieder.



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