In a year defined by challenges and division, a few local artists are hoping to use their talents to bring people together.
Passersby might have noticed the murals being painted on the fence leading to EMC Park. The art is part of a larger project being sponsored by the Hopkinton Cultural Council (HCC), an organization that supports public programs in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences by granting funds it receives from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. HCC chair Ilana Casady said the purpose of the project is to unite people while also celebrating what makes us different.
“We are each unique, with our own story to tell,” Casady said. “Art is a vehicle to share a piece of our stories.”
Three segments of the fence are being painted by different artists or groups of artists. Hopkinton High School Diversity Club member Cindy Yang is working on a piece that incorporates Hopkinton’s marathon start line and depicts animals lined up to start the race, with the caption: “We all start somewhere.”
“We are all different but we are all experiencing and living in our beautiful town of Hopkinton together,” Casady said. “This mural aims to celebrate Hopkinton’s diversity.”
A group of three South Asian-American women, Charusmitha Ram, Tejaswini Dalvi and Sushma Tammareddi, are working on another mural, as are a group of Asian-American students who live in Hopkinton but do not attend HHS: Sophie Buer, Grace Liu, Dora Lu and Kayleen Tang.
Casady said she came up with the idea for the mural as a way to achieve multiple goals during the ongoing pandemic as well as the social unrest following the murder of George Floyd. The HCC wanted to spread a message of celebrating Hopkinton’s diversity while amplifying artists from underrepresented backgrounds who often struggle to have their creative voices heard.
The struggle for visibility has only been made more difficult by the health crisis and social distancing measures that have kept folks indoors far more than usual, Casady said.
“This is a great way to keep creating during a pandemic,” she said. “We can keep creating during conflict in town, we can keep building, we can keep improving our town and our country. Art is a wonderful vehicle for spreading that message.”
And even though the focus of the project is diversity, Casady said projects like the murals can be a way to bridge differences during these charged and difficult times.
“Art is universal, and everyone can appreciate it whether you’re liberal or conservative or whoever you voted for, you can appreciate art,” she said. “I also think in a time where people are having trouble listening to one another, it’s a way to communicate without words. It’s a way to learn about other cultures and see commonalities in each other.”
A small, socially distant unveiling of the first three panels is scheduled for Dec. 1, and they will show a snapshot of Hopkinton’s history, Casady said. She added that the HCC is accepting grant applications for 2021 and they are due by Dec. 14.
“I really hope it continues to grow,” Casady said. “The fence is such a neat canvas and a neat location. The hope is that in 20 years we can look back on it and have it be a timeline of the history of our town.”