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Home is where the art is

BPS students show work at the MFA

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Home is where the art is
A piece of art by BPS student Abigail Alexis. (Photo: Photo: Courtesy MFA)

The artists and curators of the MFA Boston’s exhibit “HOMiE: In Our Eyes” mix and mingle in the courtyard of the renowned museum. They talk of technique, symbolism and their future artistic goals. The drink of choice for the evening is lemonade, because all of the artists are under 21 years old. The Teen Arts Council (TAC) at the MFA is celebrating their tenth anniversary of bringing underprivileged kids and teens into the glamorous, and often closed-off, art world. In celebration, the council curated HOMiE with works by Boston Public School students. Now the young artists, who grew up venerating the institution, have work hanging on its walls.

For ten years, TAC has been showing young people around the city how the museum operates, and that there are rich, rewarding careers to be had in the arts. Shilo Kuriakose, TAC Program Director, explains that the teens involved are exposed not just to the art side of things but the business, marketing and administrative sides as well.

“They went through an entire curatorial process to create the exhibit,” she says.

Author: Photo: Courtesy MFAA piece of art by BPS student Boyi Wong.

In good company

The theme of the show is the idea of home. Though a broad topic, it especially appeals to the group of teens, many of who are parting ways with their homes to go off to college or into the workforce. HOMiE serves as a moment of reflection on their lives until this point.

Members of the council and artists alike are awed to see their works hanging in the same building that holds Monet, Sargent and the newly-acquired Kahlo.

“I can’t believe this is something we did,” says TAC member Dahlia Elamin, looking around the gallery in wonder.

Elamin isn’t an artist herself; in fact she found herself most drawn to the event planning and organization component. Her fellow council member, Oliver Resnik, is a longtime art lover.

“I’ve been coming here since I was four,” he says, beaming. “I’m so proud of these teens.”

Broader focus

The TAC had originally planned not to include photography, but saw so many impressive submissions that they made a last-minute alteration to their criteria. One of those unexpected gems is “Next Stop Waldemar Ave.,” by Frankie Leon. His piece contains four spliced photographs, two of his apartment building in East Boston and two of the T cars that connect him to the rest of the city.

“As a teen, you’re trying to get your story out there,” says Leon. “You’re trying to show people who you are.”

Leon will attend Union College in the fall on a hard-earned scholarship. With a show at the MFA under his belt, he’s already well on his way to an impressive artistic resume.

Like many of the HOMiE artists, Leon hasn’t had an easy life. This show comes on the eve of the new opportunities that college and adulthood will bring. For the young creatives, it’s a promising start to an uncertain future. Leon says, “It doesn’t matter where you come from. It matters where you’re going.”