Teenage jeans are used as canvas in Strand exhibit exploring social issues



The Strand Theater will host a new exhibit on Friday that explores Boston’s teenage relationships with police and society through a unique art project using jeans from teenage closets.

The exhibit – “From Where I Stand” – includes nine sculptures shaped by 16 teenagers engaged in a program led by Boston Police Officer Emmanuel “Manny” Dambreville.

Using denim as a canvas, the teens layered paint, tissue paper, photos, boxing gloves and chains on the pants to reflect the themes explored in a project that began in the aftermath of George’s murder. Flord in May 2020.
Each sculpture highlights unique perspectives on a range of issues, including gentrification, poverty, drug addiction, abuse against women, crime, police brutality, trauma and racial profiling.

Sixteen teens from BPD’s Heal Boston Youth Program participated in the art project led by Saints & Scholars, Inc.

“The young people who are part of Heal Boston are the experts in their own lives and have the opportunity to teach others through their created images,” said Heather Harris, Founder and President of Saints & Scholars, Inc. The organization nonprofit uses art as a vehicle to give voice to marginalized communities. “It really is a powerful therapeutic process,” she says.

While most of the sculptures appear to be upright, covered with fabric reinforcement to retain their shape and secured to platforms, one sculpture shows the molded jeans in a kneeling position, his ankles tied with yellow police tape. Designed by Ethan Coakley, the sculpture is a searing reflection on police brutality.

Red tissue paper, symbolic of the fear and anger one can feel at the time of arrest, Harris said, springs from the waistline of the jeans. A pair of handcuffs and additional police tape hold the sculpture in captivity, as if “the person is tied,” she said.

“Ethan is a big boy,” said Dambreville, “… but he’s also a sensitive person for the plight of his people, the plight of the oppressed, the plight of what is good and what is not. not.”

The exhibit has been in the works since last summer following the murder of Floyd by Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin. Harris approached BPD with the idea of ​​creating an art project that would involve police officers and teenagers. She contacted Dambreville, who invited the young ambassadors of Heal Boston to participate in the project.

“She explained to me what her vision was, which was to do an art project and use art as a vehicle to bring the community closer to the police, to bring these communities together,” Dambreville said.

At the time, said Harris, she wasn’t sure what kind of project would take shape, but, as an art therapist, she saw the partnership as an opportunity to build a conversation and bring different communities together. through art.

“I consider the kids in this project to be ‘artivists’,” said Harris. “They are activists and artists at the same time. “

After months of discussing social issues, planning the exhibit, and compiling materials for the sculptures, for a week in late June, Harris, Dambreville and the teens from Heal Boston came together to build their sculptures.

“The essence of [the artwork] is that they embody their beliefs, their ideas, their lived experiences, ”said Harris.

The exhibit will have its opening event this Friday (September 24) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Strand Theater, 543 Columbia Rd., Dorchester. In addition to the sculptures, there will be a documentary by FGXstudios that mixes media coverage related to the exhibition themes and the making of the exhibition.

Flanked by their sculptures, the teenagers involved in the project will explain their artistic approach and the themes addressed by their pieces.

“The kids had a lot of freedom to express themselves and that’s why it’s very pure,” said Dambreville. “These are very powerful pieces.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.