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Five years ago, organizers of the Boston College Arts Festival were trying to find an eye-catching way to celebrate the event’s fifth anniversary. Inspired by Chicago’s 1999 public art exhibition Cows on Parade and Charles Demuth’s 1928 iconic painting The Figure 5 in Gold, they decided to sponsor a collaborative outdoor sculpture project, and The Fives was born. Twenty-three statues shaped like their namesake numeral, painted and decorated by various student groups, materialized on campus to herald the 2003 Arts Festival.
“The project was so successful in bringing attention to the festival, we knew we had to do it every year,” says Cathi Fournier, program administrator for the Boston College Arts Council and director of the Arts Festival. This year’s iteration showcased the Roman numeral X, in honor of the festival’s 10th anniversary. (The exhibition was titled Ever to Xcel.) Previous themes have included Umbrellas in the Midst in 2004 and Go Set the World Aflame in 2006.
Mark Cooper, a ceramicist on the studio arts faculty, constructed the statues—each a wooden frame covered in canvas. They varied in size from 4 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide. Fifteen groups were issued the tabulae rasae in advance of the three-day event (April 24–26), to deck out in themes reflecting their organizations’ missions and compete for first- and second-place cash prizes. In dorm room, garage, and dance studio, BCM senior photographer Lee Pellegrini caught the creative process. In addition, for the first time, a group of Arts Festival staff and volunteers opted to decorate a statue, too, the largest one that Cooper built. Naturally, it was 10 feet tall.
Read more by Tim Czerwienski