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Addressing The Impact of Redlining Through Public Art

By Jewish Arts Collaborative

Published Jul 25, 2023

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Collection

This Curation is part of Be the Change.

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Searching for Home

Above: Artist Chanel Thervil in front of her piece Searching for Home on view in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, August 2023.

 

How can we combat the impacts of redlining for a more just future?

 

TAKE ACTION:

Tell your legislators to support more homes with Abundant Housing MA.

Learn more about the impacts of redlining in Boston with Harvard’s School of Public Health.

 

ARTIST STATEMENT:

Redlining can be defined as a discriminatory practice that consists of the systematic denial of services such as mortgages, insurance loans, and other financial services to residents of certain areas based on their race or ethnicity. This sculpture showcases the tension between redlining and homeownership. When thinking of the American dream it often starts with a house and a white picket fence. In the sculpture, the house is surrounded by a white picket fence that rises well beyond the roof acting as a barrier to entry. Flying towards the top of the fence there are butterflies as a symbol of hope being trailed by red lines in different directions. The base of the sculpture includes raised fists of various skin tones symbolizing solidarity and the fight for access despite being targeted. The sculpture will also display a QR code that leads to the Harvard School of Public Health’s interactive web resource Environmental Racism in Greater Boston. It includes tons of history on redlining-based segregation in Boston, contemporary maps, and general information about acts passed that make Boston neighborhoods what they are today.

Materials: Wood with plastic dollhouse pieces

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST:

Chanel Thervil is a Haitian American artist and educator that uses varying combinations of abstraction and portraiture to convene communal dialogue around culture, social issues, and existential questions. Visually she represents this by creating controlled chaos via the playful juxtaposition of various textures, colors, abstractions, and representational forms that result in dynamic installations, paintings, and murals. More recently, her practice has been a playground for facilitating conversations with the public as a means of cultivating communal spaces for that kind of inquiry, discourse, and reflection.

 

LEARN MORE about Be the Change.

 

👁️ Look above to watch 4 Questions with Be the Change Global Ambassador and Founder/CEO of Dayenu, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, former President of American Jewish World Service and Co-Chair of Be the Change Global Ambassadors Ruth Messinger, and artist Chanel Thervil. 

Be the Change Walking Tour: Chanel Thervil

(3 min) Listen to Chanel Thervil describe her piece for the Be the Change Walking Tour.

 

LOCATION: 

Located across from Tasty Burger.

 

Find it in the Fenway! Click here to see the full Be the Change Boston 2023 map.

 

NEXT UP:

Free to Learn by Ruth K. Henry

In Other Eyes by Wen-hao Tien

Wishing Well by Cicely Carew

The Power of the Vote by Dana Woulfe

Transcending Borders by Julia Csekö

I Am My Sister’s Keeper by Caron Tabb

 

👁️ Look above to watch 4 Questions with Be the Change Global Ambassador and Founder/CEO of Dayenu, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, former President of American Jewish World Service and Co-Chair of Be the Change Global Ambassadors Ruth Messinger, and artist Chanel Thervil. 

Searching for Home

(3 min) Haitian American artist and educator Chanel Thurville in conversation with Be the Change Global Ambassador Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder and CEO of Dayenu, and Ruth Messinger, former President of American Jewish World Service, about redlining, home, and the human right to thrive. Inspired by her own journey towards homeownership in Boston, Chanel brings light to the issue of segregation and redlining through her artwork for Be the Change Boston 2023.

 

 

Artivism

(3 min) Artist Chanel Thurville, Be the Change Global Ambassador and Founder/CEO of Dayenu Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, and Former President of American Jewish World Service Ruth Messinger discuss the power of art as a tool for social change, soothing spirits, confronting injustice, and envisioning a different, better future.

Symbol of Hope

(4 min) Artist Chanel Thervil shares insights into how her cultural background and personal experiences shape her art. A glimpse into her unique creative process reveals the powerful symbolism employed in Searching for Home, designed to inspire hope amidst adversity.

Ways to Take Action

(4 min) Artist Chanel Thurville, Be the Change Global Ambassador and Founder/CEO of Dayenu Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, and President of American Jewish World Service Ruth Messinger discuss concrete actions individuals can take to be part of the change, from engaging in conversations with others to writing letters to legislators. This conversation highlights the significance of education and self-reflection, along with the belief that collective voices can make a difference.

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JArts’ mission is to curate, celebrate, and build community around the diverse world of Jewish arts, culture, and creative expression. Our vision is of a more connected, engaged, and tolerant world inspired by Jewish arts and culture. Learn more at jartsboston.org.

Reflections

1

How does the visual representation of the white picket fence rising beyond the roof of the house in the sculpture symbolize the barriers and challenges faced by marginalized communities in accessing homeownership? How does this imagery contribute to the overall message about the impact of redlining on the American dream?

2

The inclusion of butterflies as a symbol of hope and red lines in different directions adds complexity to the sculpture's narrative. How do you interpret the relationship between hope and the ongoing effects of redlining?

3

The raised fists of various skin tones in the base of the sculpture represent solidarity and the fight for access despite being targeted. How does this imagery resonate with the ongoing struggle against systemic discrimination? How does the sculpture engage viewers in a dialogue about the importance of addressing environmental racism and its historical impact on communities like those in Greater Boston?

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