Teams of Harvard Graduate School of Design students have filled Harvard Yard with installations as part of the University’s annual ARTS FIRST festival, taking place from April 27 through April 30. Of the three student-generated projects on view on Harvard Yard, two are by GSD students.
What’s Hanging Over Your Head? was conceived by the GSD’s African American Student Union. A constructed canopy of chiffon prompts examination of the lived oppressions of everyday life, reads the project’s curatorial statement.
“After the  election, many of us in the AASU were having conversations about where our agency as designers was for action to discuss the daily lived oppressions of marginalized communities,” says Natasha Hicks (MUP ’18), AASU co-president.
“While the material we chose does form a dark cloud, it is also transparent and allows the opportunity for the sky to shine through. We also hope that while we installed this in one of the busiest paths in the Yard, people will see the form, stop and ask ‘what is over their head.'”
“The installation intends to provide a collective space under and around which people can feel a sense of togetherness,” adds AASU co-president Marcus Mello (MArch/MUP ’18). “Through the process of planning our submission, we wanted to create a moment of healing as people walked under the hovering spans of chiffon in the Yard. Given the day-to-day oppressions many people experience, the installation unites passerby to learn about the prejudices pervasive in society.”
Meanwhile, next to Memorial Church, on the Tercentenary Theatre side of Harvard Yard, is Art of Residue by Yaqing Cai and Haoxiang Yang (both MArch ’17). In this installation, recycled frames of wood, plexiglass, and paper board left over from the laser-cutting process are reborn as art, according to the project’s curatorial statement.
ARTS FIRST is Harvard’s annual showcase of student and faculty creativity. Produced by the Office for the Arts, with support from the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, the festival is a public event with many free performances and activities for Harvard and community members of all ages.
These two GSD-student projects have been made possible with support from the Office for the Arts at Harvard’s Public Art Program awards for ARTS FIRST. Both are on view through April 30. To learn more about these and other ARTS FIRST activities, please visit the ARTS FIRST website.