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Freedom of expression

Performances, programs planned by MFA for MLK Open House

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Freedom of expression
Project STEP musicians will perform at the Museum of Fine Arts. (Photo: Michael J. Lutch)

On Jan. 15, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will host its annual open house in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The open house will include free admission for all patrons as well as a number of activities highlighting the artists of color in the museum’s collection. Linda Apple, director of volunteer and community engagement at the museum says, “The MFA is a place for everyone to enjoy, and the open house programs add to that experience.”

On the web

Museum of Fine Arts: www.mfa.org

Project STEP: http://projectstep.org/wp/

Jan. 15 MLK Jr. Day Open House: http://bit.ly/15pXZno

The museum’s Teen Arts Council organized “Passport to Movements,” a scavenger hunt during which visitors find different styles of art and stamp their passports at each one.

Tarishi “Midnight” Shuler, poet and playwright, will perform spoken word accompanied by guest artist/poet Danielle Colin and percussionist Jordan Taylor Hill.

Project STEP, a string training and education program focusing on students of color, will provide two of the central performances of the day. These performances in the Shapiro Family Courtyard will not only provide beautiful auditory entertainment, but also expose visitors to the mentoring and performance program.

“Racial and ethnic minorities are severely under represented in classical music,” says Jin-Kyung Joen, artistic director of Project STEP. “We believe there will be a lot of people who haven’t seen classical performances by young musicians.”

For high school senior Alex Hernandez, Project STEP has been more than just an opportunity to explore music, it has opened up the world for him. Hernandez is a violinist-turned-viola-player who joined the organization in elementary school. Project STEP has led him to concert opportunities in Costa Rica, Iceland, Norway and Italy. “There’s nothing else in my life that compares,” he says. “It’s very close to my heart.”

Project STEP will perform two sets at the MFA during the day, one from 12-12:30 and the other from 2:30-3. Outside the museum that same day, other musicians from Project STEP will perform from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square, followed by discussion and reflection groups. This event is also free, but tickets must be reserved in advance. For more information, see the Public Events page on Project STEP’s website.

Though the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Open House is a great opportunity to visit the museum, African American artists’ works are displayed year round, notes Apple. She recommends the Americas Contemporary Art wing, which includes her personal favorite piece, “Iago’s Mirror” by Fred Wilson, in which the artist comments on the racism of “Othello” by painting the flip side of the enormous, intricate mirror black rather than silver.

In addition to performances, the Jan. 15 Open House offers the opportunity for visitors to be artists. Mayor Marty Walsh will kick off the first stroke of a mural project sponsored by Artists for Humanity, and visitors will then be able to add their own artistic design to the creation. Last year’s mural was donated to City Hall for display. Apple hopes that this year’s mural will be similarly exhibited. She says, “This day in particular is a way for us to partner with community organizations to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy through art.”