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The Uncommon Project Projects a Bright Future for Boylston Street

The Uncommon Project, a rotating series of digital artworks projected onto Emerson's Little Building, officially opened Friday, December 1, in front of artists, College and City officials, archiects and developers, and hundreds of spectators. 

The public art project, the brainchild of President Lee Pelton, was developed by Little Building architects Elkus Manfredi and co-curated by Joseph Ketner, Emerson’s Foster Chair in Contemporary Art and distinguished curator-in-residence, and Jeff Grantz, technical director at Design Communications Ltd. Visual and Media Arts Professor John Craig Freeman and Distinguished Executive-in-Residence in Journalism Patrick Farrell are among the inaugural slate of artists in the project, which is scheduled to last several months. 

Among the artists included in the exhibit was Robert Maloney, an assistant professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, whose work focuses on the connections between temporary, fragile objects and structures and the erosion of memory. 

Maloney said he had actually thought to himself hat the Little Building would make a tremendous canvas for artwork, so he was excited when Grantz contacted him about The Uncommon Project. 

“I was totally thrilled to be a part of it, it was such a cool opportunity,” said Maloney, who was watching his work and the work of roughly a dozen other artists rotate across 80 Boylston Street from the Boston Common. Maloney, who participated in last month's ILLUMINUS Festival in Downtown Crossing, said this was the largest he's ever seen his art. 

“It's the size of a building, it's incredible,” he said. 

The Little Building, Emerson's largest residence hall, is undergoing a massive two-year renovation. When it's complete, it will include nearly 300 additional beds, as well as trendy retail stores on the ground floor. The renovation, as well as The Uncommon Project, are part of the College's efforts to animate its stretch of Boylston Street and make it a destination for Boston residents as well as visitors to the city. Future plans also include widening the sidewalks along Boylston.

Pelton has described rounding the corner of Avery Street, and seeing the LB, as it's called, wrapped in white sheeting, and envisioning a massive canvas where artwork could be displayed, contributing to Boston's public art portfolio as well as raising Emerson's profile as a premiere institution of arts and communication.

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