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“Urban Celebrations” brightens City Hall

Gloretta Baynes, a member of the African American Master Artists in Residence Program, poses in front of her artwork featured in the "Urban Celebrations" exhibit in Boston City Hall's Scollay Square Gallery. PHOTO: Mary Knox Merrill/Northeastern University

To celebrate Black History Month, the city of Boston welcomed an art exhibition featuring the works of Northeastern artists-in-residence to City Hall.

The exhibition, “Urban Celebrations,” explores the city’s cultural diversity through photographs, sculptures, and paintings created by artists from the African American Master Artists-in-Residence Program (AAMARP), an adjunct of Northeastern’s Department of African American Studies.

The exhibition includes a series of artwork honoring jazz legends, a photograph showing a diverse group of youths celebrating Deval Patrick’s election in 2007 as the first black governor of Massachusetts, and a mixed-media mosaic in the shape of a guitar featuring vibrant-colored beads, glass, tiles, and buttons.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized for this exhibition by the city of Boston, and it reaffirms our commitment to community service and our partnerships,” said Gloretta Baynes, chair of artists for the program and the exhibition’s curator. “It’s very special.”

Baynes said public exhibitions also remind the community that art is accessible to its members, is part of their heritage, and improves quality of life. She pointed to AAMARP’s work with emerging artists through the program’s community partnerships, stressing the impact art shows can have on youth. “Through these exhibitions, they can see how their own work can evolve,” Baynes said.

Earlier this month, the Boston City Council commended AAMARP for more than 30 years of community service and artistic excellence. Baynes noted that AAMARP’s first public exhibition in 1977 was also featured at City Hall.

In addition to the art exhibition, Northeastern has hosted several events on campus throughout February to celebrate Black History Month. The John D. O’Bryant African American Institute — with support from the Black History Month Committee and Enrollment Management and Student Affairs — has led discussions, while other events have featured black musicians and inventors.

The entire series of events has drawn on four themes: Connect, educate, inspire and celebrate. Yesterday, a Black History Month Celebration at the Amilcar Cabral Memorial Student Center showcased the richness of black history through song, dance, speeches and food. Today, a panel discussion at 2:45 p.m. in the Cabral Center will explore the issue of multiculturalism and diversity on college campuses.

A tour of AAMARP’s gallery in Jamaica Plain was also hosted for students, faculty and staff. This event also supports the efforts of the university’s Stony Brook Initiative, which strives to create and sustain strong relationships and connections in Boston’s neighborhoods.

AAMARP is a center of excellence in multicultural visual and performing arts dedicated to creating an enriching cultural environment for a diverse community through exhibitions, concerts, performances, lectures and workshops.

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