One associate professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design wants to make sure Trayvon Martin, the unarmed African-American 17-year-old gunned down in Florida by George Zimmerman in 2012, will be remembered in perpetuity in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.
Matthew Hincman for years had been eyeing a lamppost as a potential art space before deciding on a Wednesday a couple of weeks ago, during broad daylight, to attach to that lamppost a small, flat circular metal statue that features an image of the emblematic hooded sweatshirt that Trayvon wore the night he was killed. On the side of the installation are the words, “Still, 2014,” along with an inscription of Hincman’s name, according to WBUR, Boston’s NPR affiliate.
However, the fixture is so small that you might miss it if you don’t know it’s there at the corner of Eliot and Center streets in Jamaica Plain’s Monument Square.
“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,” Hincman told WBUR.
Hincman, who is known for other guerrilla works of art, such as a U-shaped bench and 1,200 minted copper coins to mark the Great Recession, acted in his usual manner—without soliciting permission from local authorities.
Why would Hincman do such a thing?
Hincman explained to WBUR that the street art was inspired by a granite monument erected on the opposite side of Monument Square to honor a couple dozen men from Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood who died during the Civil War.
“There’s no collective memory around those historical monuments anymore,” Hincman told WBUR.
The lamppost he had set his sights on, Hincman figured, was “ripe for intervention,” WBUR reports.
By juxtaposing Trayvon’s death with the Civil War monument, Hincman intended to create “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,” WBUR reports.
For Hincman, memorializing Trayvon, whose death sparked a national conversation on racial profiling, is about “all the young people out there with a hoodie talking on a cellphone to a friend. Because that’s what teenagers do,” notes WBUR.
Hincman hopes the Trayvon Martin monument can be a universal symbol.
“Unfortunately, I think there are many stories like his out there,” he said, according to WBUR.
Read more at WBUR.