The Punto Urban Art Museum (PUAM) is pleased to announce its 2021 annual public art exhibition, The American Dream, now on display. Seventeen jury-selected artists created 18 murals in the heart of PUAM, an open-air museum in Salem, Mass., exploring what “The American Dream” means to them. The vibrant and thought-provoking murals are located on Peabody Street in the Point neighborhood.
This year, PUAM chose a theme that could be universally understood and approached critically from a variety of viewpoints. Initially rooted in the Declaration of Independence, which states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienableRights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” the concept of “TheAmerican Dream” has been questioned in recent times by scholars and politicians as a myth rather than a reality. In these polarizing times we live in, PUAM looked to artists to foster a dialogue around the cornerstone principles of the United States by issuing a call for proposals.
Each of the 18 murals is painted on an 8-by-8 foot partition of a wall along Peabody Street. Viewers will encounter pieces by a diverse group of artists that reflect and critique “The American Dream” through different lenses, including immigration, housing, education, freedom and commercialization. The murals are accompanied by nine panels of quotes and information about “The American Dream” in both Spanish and English. PUAM hopes that the combination of art and educational content will create an impactful experience for visitors, the contributing artists and the local Point community.
Out of 35 submissions for consideration, the artists and artist groups selected this year includeKimberly Villafuerte Barzola, Joshua Beckett, Hailey Bonia, Sheila Farren Billing, Miguel Cruz with Saltonstall School students, April Jakubec Duggal, Kedrin A Frias, Jacob “Makerjake” Ginga individually and in collaboration with YouthBuild student Tatiana Rivas, Howie Green, Michael Grimaldi, Yenny Hernandez, Emily Kwong, Meg and Chris Nichols, Nicholas Pinciaro, Vicky Ortega
and Duaa Zahra.
“We are excited to see the different experiences portrayed in each mural and how we, as the spectators, can find ourselves identified through the stories they tell about reaching for this so-called ‘American Dream,’” said Yinette Guzman, PUAM’s Design and Placemaking Project Manager.
A team of judges selected the 17 artists, each receiving a $1000 stipend covering their artist fee and supplies. Many of the artists in this year’s iteration have ties to the Point neighborhood. The jury also prioritized artists who were immigrants or proposed murals related to immigration.
Through public art, PUAM aims to increase pride of place within the Point neighborhood and raise consciousness about social justice issues. PUAM’s 2021 call aimed to provoke deeper conversations with New England-based artists and provide a platform to express the constant quest for a better life that individuals and communities of color continue to pursue in this country. Since 2018, PUAM has used this location on Peabody Street as an annual rotating exhibition to display works by New England-based artists.
ABOUT PUNTO URBAN ART MUSEUM
The Punto Urban Art Museum is a mission-driven public art program created by North Shore Community Development Coalition, a community development, non-profit organization founded in Salem’s Point neighborhood. The Museum was created to break down the invisible but undeniable socio-economic barrier between the Point and the rest of the city and region. Through stunning world-class art, PUAM wishes to improve pride within the neighborhood. What sets PUAM apart is that nearly all of the public art in the program is painted on long-term, deed-restricted, affordable housing. These homes will remain affordable to generations of families.
ABOUT NORTH SHORE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COALITION
Founded in 1978, North Shore Community Development Coalition (North Shore CDC) invests in neighborhoods to create thriving communities. North Shore CDC uses a community-focused development model to invest resources into low-income or distressed neighborhoods on the North Shore to improve economic opportunity and quality of life for residents. North Shore CDC is committed to the community through affordable housing, economic and youth development, community engagement and urban art.