Acknowledge + Listen: Undoing Colonial Design in Massachusetts, 2022

The Greenway Conservancy is honored to partner with Lesley University College of Art + Design and the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) to host the public art installation, Acknowledge + Listen: Undoing Colonial Design in Massachusetts.

Developed during the 2020-2021 academic year, the public artwork was co-designed by Lesley Art + Design students and faculty as one piece of a larger legislative project through which they worked locally and nationally with Indigenous project advisors, historians, and non-indigenous legislative staff to challenge the racist imagery featured on the state seal and flag of Massachusetts. In addition to the public artwork, the students created a series of interactive research documents and an accompanying podcast, Beyond the Flag, that honors the voices of Native cultural and political leaders.

Together, the artwork, research documents, and podcast propel a larger public education initiative driven by the MA Indigenous Legislative Agenda and NAICOB related to legislative bill S.2848 (signed into effect by Governor Charlie Baker in January 2021) to expand respectful awareness of and increase reciprocal intergovernmental engagement between state legislators and leaders of local tribes and sovereign Native Nations. In May 2022, the special commission established by the bill voted to support a complete revision to the seal and motto of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

To create this work, several teams of design students led by Chelsea Johnson, Graphic Design, BFA ‘22 (she/hers, Passamaquoddy Tribe) and Madeline Meyer, Interactive Design, BFA ‘21 (she/hers) and faculty Katherine Shozawa (she/hers) and Rick Rawlins (he/his) enacted a community-informed, labor-intensive, relational design process that prioritizes empathy and long-term collaboration with Native project advisors and partners who continue to guide the work.

Primary project partners are the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB), Mass Humanities, and the Office of Senator Jason Lewis. 

The Greenway is the second site to host this traveling public art project following its installation outdoors at the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum (Lincoln, MA)  from June 2021 to May 2022. There, the artwork was shown in conjunction with Jeffrey Gibson’s monumental sculpture Because Once You Enter My House, It Becomes Our House, curated by Sarah Montross, Senior Curator. The artwork also resides as a large-scale photo mural in a street-level window of the Lunder Arts Center at LA+D.

  • Jean-Luc Pierite, Board President and Raquel Halsey, Executive Director, North American Indian Center of Boston; Councilman Jonathan James-Perry, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head/Aquinnah; Governor Brian Vallo, Pueblo of Acoma; Heidi Brandow, Elsa Hoover, Jaz Bonnin, Zoe Toledo, Harvard Indigenous Design Collective (HIDC); Megan Minoka Hill, Director, Honoring Nations, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government; Joseph Kunkel, Director, Sustainable Native Communities Design Lab, MASS Design; Jennifer Himmelreich, Program Manager, Native American Fellowship Program, Peabody Essex Museum.

  • Manel Abdellaoui, Armando Bahena, Alina Balseiro, Erika Bastos, Maya Caspi, Victoria Clark, Sydnie Drezek, Malia Edney, Denisha Fisher, Donell Janvier, Chelsea Johnson (Acknowledge + Listen, Team Lead), Jennifer Kalashian, Alyssa Lisacki, Jessica Mahoney, Long Mai, Jamal McCabe, Madeline Meyer (Beyond the Flag, Senior Capstone Project & Team Lead with technical support from Michael Coleman), Bryan Moschella, Courtney Rodriguez-Pagano, Casey Sheaves, Jessica Stevens, Yuemin Sun, Terry Wang.

  • Rick Rawlins, Katherine Shozawa, Heather Shaw, Lisa Spitz, Cameron Nobile.