Boston, MA – The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy announced the installation of a new artwork by Boston-based artist Yu-Wen Wu. Wu’s Lantern Stories, inspired by more than a year of community engagement, will be on display this fall in Auntie Kay and Uncle Frank Chin Park on The Greenway. It joins five other contemporary artworks currently on display across The Greenway.
Lantern Stories, commissioned by Greenway Conservancy, celebrates Boston’s Chinatown community. Wu’s installation came together after a year and half of community listening sessions, design, and fabrication. Wu created thirty lanterns to illuminate the history of immigration, the community’s culture, and resiliency. Some of the images relate to the long and fraught history of Chinese immigration to the United States, beginning with the California Gold Rush in the 1850s to current times. Other images celebrate Chinese culture, the community’s strong commitment to education, entrepreneurship, and social justice. The colors used throughout the installation are central to Asian culture: red which symbolizes happiness and good fortune, and gold, symbolizing prosperity.
Lanterns represent light and guide the way forward, illuminating the darkness. From humble beginnings as a candle flame surrounded by bamboo, silk or paper, the lantern has become an integral part of celebrations that foster hope and pave the way to a brighter future.
“The idea for this work evolved during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and as events were unfolding across the country that further fueled the Black Lives Matter movement,” stated artist Yu-Wen Wu. “It is my hope that Lantern Stories will offer opportunities for civic dialogue, social action, and simply the pleasure of experiencing the beauty of lanterns lit from within during these challenging times. The support from the Greenway Conservancy expanded the boundaries of my public artwork and allowed me to explore new ways of working with light.”
“The beauty of Yu-Wen Wu’s artwork, Lantern Stories, and public art in general, is that it has the ability to respond to the immediate concerns that exist in today’s society,” said Lucas Cowan, Curator and Director of Public Art for the Greenway Conservancy. “Lantern Stories is a celebration and a reminder of the struggles and the empowerment of community, specifically that of Boston’s Chinatown and Chinatowns across the nation.”
Yu-Wen Wu was selected through an open Request For Qualifications issued by the Greenway Conservancy and chosen by a community jury of Chinatown residents and leaders that includes the Josiah Quincy Elementary School, Pao Arts Center / Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Coalition, AVOYCE / Asian Community Development Corporation, Chinatown Main Street, City of Boston Arts Commission, and the Greenway Public Art Advisory Group.
For over a decade, it has been the Greenway Conservancy’s mission to manage and care for The Greenway. Like many, the Conservancy is facing significant financial and operational challenges posed by COVID-19. At a time when the community most needs to experience the wonder and connection that the arts can provide, the Conservancy is pleased to present this captivating new artwork.
This new artwork joins five currently on display. A Mouse with Ears and Tail, on view on The Greenway at Essex Street, was commissioned from local artist Furen Dai as part of the Conservancy’s annual zodiac animal series. Juan Travieso’s mural Engulf, in the Lincoln Street Triangle on The Greenway, addresses the challenges brought by gentrification and climate change. In his monumental mural Resonance, at Dewey Square on The Greenway, Super A questions the social, political, and emotional systems that confine our freedom . Installed in June, Yinka Shonibare’s artwork Wind Sculpture (SG) V, suggests that identity is always a richly layered and dynamic set of relationships, while evoking a sense of freedom and possibility. Catalina Delgado-Trunk’s installation, Global Connections on the Light Blades near Milk Street, explores Mesoamerican legends and foods across space and time, inviting viewers to delight in fantastical stories about the origins of food, an element that links us all. All exhibits are outdoors and free to the public.
As the Commonwealth continues phased reopening, visitors are encouraged to unwind safely on the 1.5 miles of The Greenway. The Greenway Conservancy has taken special precautions amidst the coronavirus, and encourages all visitors to practice physical distancing, good hygiene, and caution.
All Greenway public art is funded exclusively through competitive grants and private sources; the installation received support from The Barr Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Mabel Louise Riley Foundation,TD Charitable Foundation, and Robert and Doris Gordon.