359 Broadway Street
Artist: Ellen Driscoll
Location: Above the Broadway entrance
When Ellen Driscoll received the commission for these three fabric banners, she was given the themes of community, art, and academics, as well as three "junior collaborators." A first-grade student worked with her on "Community," cutting out patterns from pieces of colorful paper.
Two older students drew images that, for them, represented academics (a dinosaur, Planet Earth, magnifying glass, and snake) and arts (trumpet, sun, musical note, paintbrush). Driscoll incorporated the students images into her design for each of the banners, which she then constructed out of fabric. The banners are displayed one at a time on an outdoor pole on the Broadway side of the school.
Ellen Driscoll is a longtime resident of Cambridge. A professor of sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design, she has been exhibited at the Whithney Museum of American Art and the Threadwaxing Space (both in New York). In 2001 she completed a major public commission, "As Above, So Below," for New York City's Grand Central Station.
Artist: Robin Shores
Materials: 4 Concrete bollards
Dimensions: 33" x 18"
Originally, these four bollards (thick posts) served an unadorned, practical purpose: to protect students from busy Broadway traffic. Robin Shores transformed the cement cylinders into sculptural surprises, with small openings near each base revealing three-dimensional hands, balls, sneakers, and other "clues" or "traces" left behind by the children of the Longfellow School.
As a Peace Corps volunteer Robin Shores worked in India and Africa, and currently teaches English in Bangladesh. An MFA graduate of the University of Buffalo, he has taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as well as Boston University. His figurative stone sculptures are in many public and private collections.
Artist: Alston Conley
Title: Room of the Maps
Dimensions: 5' x 20'
The inspiration for Alston Conley's four-part mural is the "map room" found in many Renaissance-era Italian government buildings. In Conley's words, maps historically represented "influence, trade, knowledge, and power." This mural certainly encourages knowledge - it's located on the west wall of the school library and can be used as a teaching tool. It also celebrates the international character of the school. At the time of Conley's commission, Longfellow School's student body represented 43 different countries. Made with the Renaissance-era technique of fresco painting, this map, says Conley, "is intended to remind us of the changing world we all belong to."
Conley first encountered map rooms in the early 1980s, when he traveled to Italy on a Fulbright scholarship. Although he is one of the few artists still practicing the art of fresco painting, he now concentrates on the "more portable" medium of oil painting. Conley has exhibited in solo and group shows around the country and his work is in several museums and corporate collections. Educated at the Pratt Institute, the Boston Museum School, and Tufts University, he serves as an adjunct professor in Fine Arts at Boston College and is curator for Boston College's McMullen Museum of Art.
Artist: Mags Harries
Materials: Ash wood, enamel, incandescent lights
Dimensions: 9' 8" x 10' x 5'
Mags Harries's Alice in Wonderland-style desk forms a whimsical portal in one of the school's hallways. The desk, built to triple scale, supports an equally oversized cup, bowl, and pile of books - all seemingly left behind by a giant schoolchild. Adding to the mystery are an open drawer and the pink glow from a hidden electric light. In designing this fairy-tale sculpture, Harries chose to work in wood, as opposed to cheaper materials like plastic, and had the piece crafted by a cabinetmaker using traditional techniques. Harries then covered the desk in six coats of different colored paint - providing an element of surprised delight when students scratch their initials into the "magic desk."
Harries's public art projects range from indoor installations like Gateway to large-scale outdoor structures that grace museums, parks, and institutions around the U.S. and Great Britain. Many of these works can be found in the Boston/Cambridge area, the most familiar being the Asaroton '76 cross walk at Haymarket and Glove Cycle at the Porter Square MBTA subway station. Harries has taught at the Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts and frequently gives lectures and workshops on public art around the country.
Commissioned through the Cambridge Arts Council's Public Art Program