47” x 47”
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The sculpture “Boston” looks at the intellectual and cultural history of Boston and the United States through the words of it’s leading offspring. In many ways the sculpture illuminates the strong streak of idealism in American culture, whether from the figures of establishment to the renegade counter culture. The ideals and principles of the just and moral society put forth by Samuel Adams, Theodore Parker or later on JFK co exist with the attack upon the actual reality of government, the early hypocrisy, the unjust imprisonments, the racism and slavery of the early history. The words that direct themselves to these injustices from Anne Hutchinson, Ferdinand Sacco and W.E.B. Dubois resound in the past history of Boston. In the present Howard Zin takes a critical look at the current inequalities and predicaments of the underprivileged and disadvantaged. Alongside these come the wonderfully enlightened writings of Emerson, Thoreau and Hawthorne pointing to a beautiful flowering of consciousness in the 19th century. There is always a sense perhaps of a nation moving at two speeds, one wanting to open up and embrace a more radical social future and another that is not quite ready and wishes to move at a far slower pace. Jack Kerouac was a figure that illuminated this lack of readiness for the social changes that were starting to occur at the time of his writing, ultimately he was left feeling isolated and alone, yet his writings played a specific role in the breaking apart of old conventions in the 1960s. The culture of New England has always been in the vanguard of the social and intellectual progress of the nation, and this is evidenced by all of the voices that contribute to this sculpture.
The sculpture also reveals the history of the landfills that contributed to the current physical size of Boston today. The darker, raised forms of the sculpture show the small peninsular that was the original scale of Boston in the 17th century. Gradually added to and expand as various parts of the bay were filled in, the varying heights of the sculpture relate to the time periods that this occurred in. The great fire of Boston in 1872 is depicted in the burnt and singed area in the sculpture.