Northeastern University’s Gallery 360 is pleased to present its new exhibition, Dream Boston, which takes its curatorial cue from an ongoing series of short audio plays of the same name, hosted by The Huntington Theatre Company and set in the post-pandemic Boston of the future. Launched in April of 2020 and written by commissioned local writers, each piece plays out against the landscapes and landmarks of greater Boston, the city itself becoming an essential, complex character rather than a mere backdrop. While the initial goal was to respond creatively to the state of theatre in a time of social distancing, the series resonates with issues of racial injustice, police brutality, monuments and memory, and the layered histories and lived experience of place. Boston communities consumed the radio plays, in turn creating, sharing, and asking “what the future-we-wish-to-see might ask of us now,” as Northeastern curator and Director of the Center for the Arts, Amy Halliday, explains.
For the 2021 spring exhibition in Gallery 360, Halliday and Dream Boston playwright Miranda ADEkoje came together to invite visual artists whose work is fundamentally in, of, or for the city to be part of what they saw as an ongoing “call” to imagine and shape its future. ADEkoje’s contribution to the original Dream Boston audio play series was titled Virtual Attendance. Representing the nightmarish future she saw if the racial reckoning was ignored, the piece posits a Boston hollowed out by the violent erasure of significant physical and cultural sites for communities of color (such as Hibernian Hall).
After hearing ADEkoje’s Virtual Attendance, Halliday asked director Melinda Lopez, co-creator of the Huntington series and a new Professor of the Practice in Northeastern’s Department of Theatre, to connect them. ADEkoje and Halliday immediately found a common vision from within their different creative mediums – and the collaborative Gallery 360 exhibition began to take shape.
“We have spent nearly a year trudging and relapsing through the phases of reopening the city. The Dream Boston exhibition in Gallery 360 progresses towards the next phase: truly reimagining it,” said ADEkoje, who co-curated the exhibition with Halliday. “As a playwright, I responded to not being able to gather in a theatre by inviting folks to listen. The Dream Boston visual artists are exhibiting a selection of pieces that entice you to lean in and look carefully. In this, we are all contributors to a collective answer to the cries of our current time – Listen. Look…
and may the next phase in our creative discovery inform how we respond to whatever else should come.
Featured artists in Gallery 360’s Dream Boston include Furen Dai, Candice Camille Jackson, Woomin Kim, MAR, Jane Marsching, Youjin Moon, and Sagie Vangelina.
“What’s exciting about this exhibition is the openness of the underlying concept: a dream, of course, ‘contains multitudes.’ It can be understood as a series of thoughts, images, emotions, associations and sensations; at turns hopeful, dystopian, nostalgic, revolutionary, ambiguous, fantastical, galvanizing,” explained Halliday. “A dream can provide a space for projection and play and possibility. It can embody our hopes and manifest our ambition. It can also give form to our greatest fears. The seven artists in the show each develop distinct trajectories of ‘dreaming.’”
One of the goals of the exhibition is for the Northeastern campus community (through in-person visits and curricular connections) and beyond (through an immersive 3D tour and free public programs) to be transported to new places and to imagine alternate realities in a present time and space that feels so very circumscribed.
“The most freeing thing about responding to being asked to ‘dream’ was that I could be as whimsical, apocalyptic, dreary, or imaginative as I liked and the audience, tethered to us by their ears and willingness to listen, was transported to the worlds we discovered as playwrights,” said ADEkoje. ADEkoje is both a producer and playwright, roles in which she is able to combine her inclination to solve problems (as a producer) and ask questions that stoke the flame of the imagination (as a playwright). “Co-curating Dream Boston with Gallery 360 was fascinating for me because I’ve always found quiet solace in the echoey halls of modern art museums that provide the space to create narratives based solely on who I am and my life’s experience at the time of viewing. Centering our choices on the Dream Boston prompt and how these artists chose to share their dreams with us was a narrative journey that I enjoyed. As a producer and playwright, I’m creating the thing to be consumed and experienced. As a co-curator, I was presented with these artists’ creations alongside their narrative interpretations which, when played alongside my own, created a more communal conversation, one that I hadn’t previously experienced with visual art.”
These conversations – both sharing and sparking them – are at the heart of the Gallery 360 exhibition, which comes together as a result of many collaborations and partnerships.
The arts offer ways of seeing and knowing differently, can scaffold difficult conversations, and bring all sorts of beauty, complexity, and inquiry to the fore…
Halliday continued, “As just a few examples of the range of work on display, Woomin Kim’s large-scale textile Urban Nest (Boston) – which we’re excited to loan from Bunker Hill Community College – weaves together found fabrics and discarded objects to create a textile landscape of association and memory that is literally made of the stuff of Boston; Candice Camille Jackson’s portrait series And They Were Radiant pictures the children of her Dorchester community in these sacred moments where secrets and stories and half-smiles play out across their faces; Jane Marsching’s hand-printed banners, with locally-foraged natural inks, are part of an ongoing project of collectively imagining the future (as an urgent step towards manifesting it) through the words of artists, activists, and philosophers past and present. And so much more: you’ll have to see for yourself!”
The exhibition will run from February 15 – April 11, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gallery is only open to Northeastern University students, staff and faculty. A virtual tour will go live by the end of February on the exhibition webpage, offering broader public and remote campus access, alongside free virtual public programs.