Community Jukebox Chosen as Public Artwork for the Foundry

Elisa HamiltonPhoto courtesy of Elisa Hamilton.

A jukebox filled with community recordings will be the public art centerpiece for the Foundry building, a 37,500-square-foot space that the city is redeveloping into what Cambridge Arts describes as “a public community space for art, entrepreneurship, technology and workforce education.”

The building, located at 101 Rogers St., is expected to open in 2021.

Elisa H. Hamilton, who calls herself as a “socially engaged multimedia artist,” came up with the jukebox proposal after a brainstorming meeting with the Loop Lab, a music and podcast recording studio that helps underserved young people in the Port neighborhood learn about sound engineering, music production, and workforce development.

Hamilton has worked in a variety of media, and says she reaches for whichever one best fits the issue she’s approaching with her art. She’s created several other interactive art installations before, including pop-up dance floors and a collaborative glass drawing.

“My work has really become about bringing people together, about social issues, about community,” she says. “I love creating interactive work.”

Hamilton will work with the Loop Lab to develop community recordings. She says she wants residents to drive the recordings’ content, and she’ll be doing significant community outreach to learn what people want in the jukebox.

“It starts with community issues,” she says. “This summer, it’s about building infrastructure and it’s also about me getting out into the community and meeting people and saying, ‘This is happening,’ and asking people what stories they want to tell and what stories they want to hear. I have ideas, but this project isn’t about me, it’s about the Cambridge community. I want to hear from folks about what are the themes that people want to talk about.”

While Hamilton is based on Boston, she grew up in East Arlington and has spent a lot of time in Cambridge. She credits the Porter Square T stop’s “Glove Cycle” with being her first introduction to public art.

Got ideas for Hamilton? She says anyone interested in contributing to the project can sign up for the Cambridge Arts email list to stay up-to-date on the project.