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Artists Displays Art in Public Space as a Reminder of the Black Experience

Jeremy Pasker | 6/25/2014, 2:42 p.m.

A plaque immortalizing the loss of young men of color in America was sculpted and displayed in a public space by Guerilla artist Matthew Hincman. He sat down with NPR Boston to explain his reasons for making it and what his intentions were.

The statue was designed to sit surreptitiously atop a lamppost in Boston's Monument Square, a subtle display of remembrance.

"There's no collective memory around historical monuments anymore," Hincman tells NPR Boston. "Who do we memorialize? Why do we memorialize them in public."

The thought to memorialize Trayvon Martin, and incidents like it, in a public space was 4 years in the making. Hincman was inspired by the civil war monument on the other side of the square, depicting a dozen or so forgotten soldiers.

The statue was set up a few Wednesdays ago. Without permission from authorities or requests by officials he, along with an assistant, attached the miniature, opaque, metal, cylinder statue atop the Jamaica Plain lamppost marked with an Eliot St. and Center st. sign.

Juxtaposing both statues reads as "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 [and] the end of the Civil War," he told NPR.

The artist sculpted a hoodie sweatshirt on top of the statue's flat surface then inscribed his name and "still 2014" around its side. Well camouflaged, no one could tell its sits on the post unless they knew where to look.

Hincman, a teacher at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, is known for his secret Guerilla artwork around Boston. He sculpted an odd U shaped park bench, dropped 1,200 copper coins around the city with latin scripture on both sides symbolizing economic inequality, and designed acronyms on the side of commercial windows questioning the evolution of modern language

It's fairly opaque, I won't deny that. Some may see the hoodie sweatshirt as a symbol. I don't really want the work to be didactic," he admits to NPR Boston. "I wanted it to be more open than just a memorial to Trayvon Martin as well."