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Salem’s Public Artist in Residence to Host Immersive Exhibition at Old Town Hall

The City of Salem is excited to host Salem’s public artist in residence and architect Claudia Paraschiv’s immersive exhibition “A City of Care + Wonder” January 17 – 28, 2024 at Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square, Salem MA. The installation will feature the collaborative work(s) created during Paraschiv’s time on Artists’ Row as the City’s 2023 Public Artist in Residence (PAiR).

Salem’s Public Artist in Residence Exhibition

From poetic musings to practical projects, the exhibit is a kaleidoscopic love letter to the City of Salem inspired by handwritten stories and crafted from natural and compostable materials. Throughout the summer and fall, Ms. Paraschiv used a large-scale, mobile tree sculpture called the “Tree of Care + Wonder” to actively explore city-making from a personal, emotional perspective. Most of the works on display, including the “Tree” itself, were created in partnership with the community during collaborative workshops of all ages. The multimedia exhibit features photographs of civic art events performed throughout public spaces in Salem, a cartographic collage, and policy recommendations for city design based on narratives from locals.

Claudia Paraschiv’s work, "Tree of Care and Wonder"

When asked, the artist had this to say about the project: “The Tree of Care + Wonder grew out of a series of sketches from 2018-2020 about my vision of the future in which I drew a tree in the middle of the street, with people eating, talking, and playing all around it. Might something delightful, full of life and friendship, grow in an unexpected place? As I developed the theme to apply for the 2023 Salem Public Artist in Residence program, the metaphor expanded to consider the question of how cities might be built in surprising but wonderful ways. This “Tree” didn’t grow from fertile soil, but from the inhospitable blacktop of modern streets. The tree was insurgent. Perhaps you too have, at some point, stopped to marvel at a small flower growing from concrete. How might we elevate what is inspiring; how might we imagine what is yet to be? From this context, the Tree provokes the question: How might we build a City of Care + Wonder?”

In addition to her PAiR stipend from the City, Ms. Paraschiv secured grants from the Salem Cultural Council (SCC), the Essex Creative County Foundation (ECCF), and a vital partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) to fund engagement with over twenty-five local artists, musicians, photographers, dancers, and even a puppeteer to collaborate with her on civic-art events. Some other key partnerships included Gloucester educator and activist Toni Armstrong, Salem State University Professor Michael Jaros, History Alive, and local activist Michael Corely.

Claudia Paraschiv is an architect and public artist, with a passion for composting and ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units). She has lived in Salem since 2010 and founded her design practice, Studioful Design in 2016, as a woman-owned, social enterprise engaged in architecture, community art, and neighborhood design. Ms. Paraschiv will present her policy findings to Salem’s City Council, and will continue her research into how expansive, novel uses of public spaces directly improve people’s daily lives as a 2024 MASSCreative Advocacy and Organizing Fellow.

The exhibition is free, accessible, and open to the public Wednesdays-Sundays from 10am-4pm, January 17 – 28 2024 at Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square Salem MA.

Artist “Meet & Greet” hours are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12-2pm for those interested in diving deeper.

The City of Salem will be announcing the awardee for the 2024 Public Artist in Residence program in the spring. Stay tuned for more information.

About Artists’ Row

Artists’ Row is at the heart of the City, centrally located in historic downtown Salem at 24 New Derby St., across from Old Town Hall and Derby Square. It was originally built as a marketplace and continues to be a thriving public plaza and pedestrian way.  Artists’ Row consists of four artist ‘stalls’, one of which is dedicated to the City’s Public Artist in Residence, a restaurant, and a public restroom and The Artists’ Row Initiative is a seasonal program run by the City of Salem’s office of Arts & Culture that provides space for artists and artisans looking to build their audience and/or business through daily engagement with residents and visitors to Salem.  Learn more at: https://www.salemma.gov/artists-row

About City of Salem Arts & Culture Program

The City of Salem’s Arts & Culture Program is committed to enriching & enlivening the urban environment through showcasing innovative & transformative works of art in all media & modalities. With a focus on working with local artists, especially those historically underrepresented, we seek to foster greater community awareness of & interaction with the arts and celebrate diversity in all its forms. Our goal is to nurture diversity & creativity; foster a sense of community pride & belonging; and enhance the quality of life for all. Learn more at https://www.salemma.gov/arts-culture

About the Salem Public Art Commission

With a focus on local artists and a global perspective of the art scene, the Salem Public Art Commission (PAC) seeks to foster greater community awareness of and interaction with the arts, enhance the scope and profile of Salem’s public art collection, and celebrate diversity in all its forms among citizens and visitors of Salem’s alike. The PAC feels Public Art in Salem should contribute to the community’s identity as the cultural hub of the North Shore and a center for creativity; foster community pride & ‘ownership’; and enhance the quality of Salem’s built environment. To learn more and view Calls for Art from the PAC please visit: https://www.salemma.gov/public-art-commission/pages/calls-artists.

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