Gabriel Sosa's billboards offer messages of hope in Boston communities hit hard by COVID-19

Radio Boston


You've seen them. It's a series of bright colorful billboards with powerful messages of hope in english and spanish like one in roslindale square big bright letters against a solid background. It ain't easy but keep going. The inside bill unsigned billboards. They've appeared in east boston. Roslindale roxbury dorchester. Boston communities hit particularly hard by covid nineteen and they are the work of gabriel sosa. So says grew up in miami and is now a visiting lecturer at the massachusetts college of art and design artist teacher translator and we spoke with gabriel sosa recently about his art. Heidi thanks for having me. It's great to have you so i there's so much i wanna talk about both in sort of form and message but let's start with message. It is a simple hopeful loving message. How did you land on it and sort of the variations of the messages. You're using it came from a long process. I was scheduled to have a public art project at some point in the spring or summer of twenty twenty i had been thinking about the different ways that that could take place and listen to the pandemic and then i really came upon this idea of. What can an artist offer right now. And i thought well you know arts can offer. Space for critical reflection can offer a space for comfort and is based on solidarity and then they use of the words. North fascinated me growing up in miami in a cuban american community. Those words are so intelligible cross spanish speaking countries. There's this kind of special flavor of solidarity with that. You can be standing in the long line and someone will look back at you. Either miami or havana. And say hey. North fosse's limits this way of saying you know. Hey i got you. That's where that spirit came from. And then it just seem logical thinking about my My bilingual miss my cultural mess and the large finnish speaking population in boston that it made sense to offer both in english and spanish. This new fascinating easy. Let's talk about this idea of solidarity. Which you you say. This work expresses these messages of hang in there. Keep going express. What does it mean to you. And and how do these billboards express a kind of solidarity. It means that you understand someone that you are wish them and hopefully that expresses itself in some way to be on on the same page to know where someone is coming from. Why is that so important right now. Well needless to say the world has changed right before our eyes were about a year into this pandemic things that seem sort of unthinkable or almost a little sifi for us have become normal and not only the pandemic but also in this country everything the twenty twenty brought us and i think just being able to to say to someone look i. I know what you're going through or i can sympathize with you. I think he's just one of the most important gestures that anyone can make. Let's talk about the medium. you chose for minute. We we just finished talking about the message. Producer jamie bologna. And i were both so struck by your choice to use billboards. I think we share a fondness for billboards and the you know that sort of passing way. They communicate with people in their communities in their daily life. What made you land on. Billboards came from a place of my being interested in text in the public space in this kind of range from things like bumper stickers window signs street signs painted on ashfall adopt myself. Would something i can do that. Shares message that considers social distancing that's visible and then sort of seemed like a logical option and there's also such a rich history of artists that have used billboards as a media. I mean there's spending coincides thrown is there's crew gird at scott so it was really exciting for me to tap into that traditions. Well

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