Benenson doesn’t claim to be a historian, but rather views these projects as opportunities to create public art and community. She shared her elaborate spreadsheets of notes from her interviews with categories such as PLACE or FAMILY TRIUMPHS and her criteria for how to integrate and layer them into her work.
Another component of the public art project is an augmented reality experience in the neighborhood’s Alley Gallery that will allow participants to open doors and let multiple languages wash over them. If people allow themselves to get out of their comfort zone and linger, they will soon glean some meaning and experience some shared humanity, even if they don’t understand a word, says Benenson. The door component was inspired by stories Benenson was told about voter registration volunteers knocking on the doors of Point residents and being surprised by the friendly response and hospitality they received.
Benenson created her public art collaborative Harbor Voices in 2017. Initially funded by grant money from her alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design, Harbor Voices quickly caught the attention of nonprofit art and community organizations as well as other artists, designers, musicians and writers, becoming an extensive collaboration. She views Harbor Voices as a living and growing art piece.
The project began with stories from Gloucester immigrants and sort of saved Benenson after she and her husband Clement moved from New York City in 2010, back to Cape Ann and she felt like she wasn’t connecting with local artists. That’s when she began to hang out at PEM.
“It had transformed in the time I’d been away,” she says of the museum.
Benenson comes from a family of Cape Ann artists with a family-run gallery in Rockport. Her father, John Terelak, has work in PEM’s collection and her grandfather, Martin Ahearn, was a watercolor painter.
"I have to figure out what's next," Benenson said, “as I research the intersection between arts accessibility, technology and public art. There were so many lessons learned in this process."
IM | MIGRATION
Public Voices. Public Art.
Saturday, May 11, 2019 from 6–10 pm
Join us for a community picnic, sponsored by the Peabody Essex Museum, to celebrate the unique cultures of the Point neighborhood. Then view the opening of IM|Migration, an outdoor laser and sound installation created by Harbor Voices, that tells the stories of 100 immigrants, past and present. The event is part of a weeklong public art festival at Salem's El Punto Urban Art Museum.
Location: Peabody Street Park | 34 Peabody Street, Salem
Fiesta De Arte
May 18, 2019 | 9pm-1am | 96 Lafayette Street, Salem | $25/Online, $30/Door, $100/VIP
Join us in North Shore CDC’s historic loft gallery for on of the most fun evenings on the North Shore: a performance art party featuring Harbor Voices, DJ Cito & a host of other artists. Music, performance art, lighting installations, cash bar. VIP Tickets are available but limited, VIP experience: guided tour of Harbor Voices, drink tickets, special gift bag and more. This event is 21+.
*Tickets are $10 for Residents of the Point Neighborhood (Purchase and valid ID required at the door)
For more information on the entire week of events, go HERE.