Trayvon Martin Monument Installed Surreptitiously in Boston

Wednesday, 25 Jun 2014 08:10 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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A small monument to Trayvon Martin was installed in a Boston square without permission by a college professor who said he is skeptical of the public art approval process.

In an interview with NPR affiliate WBUR, Matthew Hincman, an associate professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, explained that the sculpture was intentionally juxtaposed with the Civil War memorial in Jamaica Plain’s Monument Square.

By placing it nearby on top of a non-functioning lamppost stump he said was "ripe for intervention," it's meant to be "a contemporary marker to how far we’ve come in terms of race relations, in terms of power and equality since the end of slavery, since the end of the Civil War."

Hincman did not get the work approved by the city, and said that this choice was intentional. He remains skeptical of the public art approval process, and said the bureaucracy might not embrace controversial subjects like the Trayvon Martin killing.

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Martin was a 17-year-old, unarmed African-American killed in Florida on February 26, 2012, by a neighborhood watch coordinator, George Zimmerman, who was acquitted after being charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

The monument is not Hincman's first piece to be installed without permission.

In 2006, he installed an unusual park bench near Jamaica Pond that had two back-rests — making it impossible to sit on. The work was carted away by park workers, at which time he submitted it to the Boston Art Commission. The board approved it and it eventually returned to the park.

In 2009, he minted 1,200 copper coins that looked similar to the penny, but featured images of apples and potatoes. The work was a comment on the Great Recession and the "rampant commodification of our society." He said he wanted to provoke the question, "What if what the common people had was more valuable than what the wealthy people had?"

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