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What's the Point? Collection : A Public Art Project, 2005


The “What’s the Point?” Collection was donated to the Archives and Special Collections Department of the Healey Library by UMass Boston’s Community Outreach Partnership Center Project (COPC) in July of 2005.


The “What’s the Point?” Project was one part of the UMass Boston Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC) Grant that was funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) written with advice and support from UMB’s CPCS staff members Joan Arches and Rob Beattie. The federal grant provided funding for projects that will beautify Columbia Point and help residents, neighbors, workers, and students plan for its future. The UMass Boston Community Outreach Partnership Center Project (COPC) was specifically created to counteract the sense of isolation that has characterized the history of Columbia Point and to overcome the historic sense of disconnect among residents and institutions.

The “What’s the Point?” Project Steering Committee consisted of interested representatives from participating institutions, organizations, and groups, served to advise and guide the project in all phases. Participating organizations were: The Boston Globe, Corcoran Jennison Companies, Geiger Gibson Health Center, Shaws Super Market, WB56, The Harbor Point Task Force, MBTA, John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, The Commonwealth Museum and Archives, The UMass Boston Early Learning Center, St. Christopher’s Church, The Notre Dame Montessori School, The Walter Denny Youth Center, The Paul A. Dever Elementary School, The John W. McCormack Middle School, Boston College High School, and the University of Massachusetts Boston.

In April of 2005, over one hundred community members representing a broad range of institutions, organizations, and groups on Columbia Point, came together in a series of participatory workshops under the leadership of project leader Wendy Baring-Gould, professional artist Cathy McLaurin and poet, Gary Duehr, to create original works of art which describe their sense of connection to The Point.

The participants of the three-week workshop wrote poetry and created works of art. The poetry has been presented in A Poetry Anthology from “What’s the Point.” The artwork was reproduced in full color on metal panels and attached in clusters to posts or totems placed in twelve places around Columbia Point, along streetscape, at intersections, and bus stops. All the artwork pieces have been signed by the artists, and include the role each person fills in the community.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of digital images of the artwork in PDF format on a CD, copies of “A Poetry Anthology” and digital photographs of the participants during the 2005 workshops taken by various photographers. The collection also contains accounts of the “What’s the Point?” Project in the local press.

Images to be added soon!


Images of 12 Totems to be added soon!