Mithsuca Berry hasn’t even graduated Revere High School (RHS) yet, but the high-powered young artist already has her work spread out for viewers all over the Greater Boston regions – courtesy of the MBTA.
Berry, a senior at RHS, was one of three students in the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) teen program selected to be part of the MBTA project, which involved a new digital network of screens that needed some interesting content.
When the MBTA turned to the ICA, the ICA turned to Berry and her fellow teen artists.
“This project is important to me because of the significance that the MBTA has had for me as an artist,” Berry told the Journal. “It bridged a gap between me, a student from a detached urban area, and the warmth of the art community in Boston.”
The teens’ videos went live March 26 on high-definition digital triptych screens installed within MBTA stations across the system. This new digital network provides customer information across the entire system at no cost to the MBTA, and generates advertising revenue to help support daily MBTA operations. The collaboration with the ICA is just the first step in the MBTA’s program of providing useful and enjoyable customer content across its growing digital network.
Berry’s video Shades of the City makes use of hand-drawn stop-motion animation and tells the story of a woman of color who falls asleep on the train and dreams about painting the City of Boston in her likeness.
“The digital network that the MBTA is building is delivering real value to our customers in many different ways – and this partnership with the ICA Teen Arts Program is one that we’re particularly proud to showcase,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. “In addition to providing critical customer-focused information, the T’s new digital network is providing a canvass to highlight excellent creative work from local teens.”
Gabrielle Wyrick, associate director of education at the ICA, said Berry has been an enthusiastic artist in the program for about two years. She participates in their youth programming extensively and also is a member of the 15-person Teen Arts Council.
“Mithsuca is a voraciously creative person and doesn’t limit herself to one medium,” said Wyrick. “She has experience with a lot of media from painting to sculpture to film and animation. She’s multifaceted. As you can imagine, there are so many incredible opportunities that come our way for young people in our programs. It was an opportunity that come up through the MBTA. When we heard about it, we decided to nominate three excellent young people to create these films and we would help to develop them. It went above and beyond her usual Teen Arts Center activities.”
Wyrick said she has already seen Berry’s film, as well as the other two ICA students that made films.
“One of the first things we thought of when we heard what the MBTA wanted to do was our teens,” said Wyrick. “We think it was a great idea. We’re very pleased with how it has come about. We’re really proud of Mithsuca and can’t wait to see where her creativity will take here in the future.”
As for the MBTA, they said the Authority has never entered into such an arts partnership with young people. They hope T riders like it as much as they do.
“We hope T riders enjoy the results as much as we do,” said MBTA Director of Revenue Evan Rowe. “To our knowledge, this is the first time that the T has done an effort like this and we’re eager for feedback. It’s all about making our customers’ journeys better, and maybe even adding a touch of delight to their days.”
The same if true for young artists like Revere’s Mithsuca Berry.