Boston Harbor [Re]creation creates platforms for artists to interpret the unique elements that comprise Boston Harbor, so that artists, in turn, may engage new audiences through creating place-based artwork that offers innovative educational and recreational opportunities for the public. 


The 2019 Artists in Residence


Artist Marsha Parrilla — Harbor Islands: Past, Present, Future

Through intentional partnerships with Native American members of the Nipmuc, Massachusett, and Mashpee Wampanoag communities, multidisciplinary dance theater artist Marsha Parrilla facilitated the creation of Harbor Islands: Past, Present, Future.

The residency sheds light on the historic accounts of Harbor Islands as expressed through the voices of the people whose ancestors were part of the islands; illuminates their contemporary history (and the ongoing presence of Native peoples on the islands), and serves as a platform to collectively create a fresh vision for Indigenous people from Boston. This project creates spaces to heal these collective wounds to our land, our minds, and our spirits- and to dream a better future for generations to come.
Location: Carson Beach Date: August 18th, 1:00pm - 4:30pm
Free and Open to the Public!

This unique intertribal event featured Massachusetts-based Native American leaders in their communities.
A dynamic panel, moderated by Cedric Woods (Lumbee), focused on Indigenous perspectives on Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice in the Harbor Islands. Panelists included: Elizabeth Solomon (Massachusett), Faries Sagamore Gray (Massachusett), Robert Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag), and Hartman Deetz (Mashpee Wampanoag).

Fun, interactive, and educational family activities included: the creation of a model of the Harbor Islands' transition through time with climate change, led by Andre Strongbearheart Gaines Jr. (Nipmuc), Miles Bernadett-Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag); a Healing Salve-Making Workshop, led by Nia Holley (Nipmuc); and a songwriting workshop dedicated to Mother Earth's healing, and recognition of her sacredness, led by Jasmine Rochelle Goodspeed (Nipmuc)!

Location: Carson Beach Date: September 14th, 1:00pm - 4:30pm
Free and Open to the Public!

This unique event featured a moderated conversation of what took place in Deer Island- what is taking place today, and our vision for its future. Four women from Massachusetts local tribes: Kristen Wyman, Elizabeth Solomon, Nia Holley, and Jasmine Rochelle Goodspeed shared their research and perspectives, and the panel was moderated by Marsha Parilla. The event also featured an interactive workshop on the environmental history of Deer Island- led by Andre Strongbearheart Gaines Jr. and Miles Bernadett-Peters.
Marsha Parrilla

Afro Taíno choreographer Marsha Parrilla is the founding Artistic Director of Danza Orgánica. After obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Foreign Languages ​​from the University of Puerto Rico, Marsha moved to New York, where she completed a Master's Degree in Dance Education at New York University. Now a resident of Boston, Parrilla is a recipient of several awards from the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Boston Foundation, among others.

Parrilla is also a Luminary artist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where she has been commissioned to create artistic work - and is a dance ambassador for the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art. In 2017, Parrilla received the Brother Thomas Fellowship Award from the Boston Foundation. Recently, Parrilla received a Creative Development Residency at Jacob's Pillow, and performed at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Inside/Out Festival. She is also the producer and founder of the Boston-based acclaimed annual festival: We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts. In 2018, Marsha was selected for the Boston AIR program (artist in residence), with a focus on environmental justice. Currently, she is developing the program: Daka Yanuna (I am Mother Earth, in Taíno), with a focus on best practices towards decolonization and environmental justice.

Artist Robin MacDonald-Foley — Quilting the Islands Together

The public embellished squares during art gatherings on Peddocks and Georges islands for a community quilt facilitated by artist Robin MacDonald-Foley. These art gatherings connected people together through sharing stories. Robin gathered and stitched the art pieces together during her residency, and the resulting quilt revealed the many common threads of place, nature, and people.

The quilt unfolded over several weeks, linking each square together in visual stories.
Robin MacDonald-Foley

Robin MacDonald-Foley is a multi-faceted artist who prefers working outdoors and considers the natural environment her studio. Documenting nature's subtitles and extremes, Robin’s reworking of visual imagery in various art forms has evolved in several bodies of work, including stone carving and photography. Raised in Quincy, Massachusetts on a one-square-mile peninsula, Robin grew up boating and spending time on the neighboring Boston Harbor Islands with her family. The islands connection has always been a big part of her life, a place her family called home six decades ago. Quilting the Islands Together will be a time of reflection and sharing stories with island visitors she meets during her stay. Her childhood roots remain a continual source of inspiration in her artwork today. Robin received her BFA in Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, and has been widely exhibited in a variety of venues both locally and nationally. She currently teaches art in Mission Hill, and enjoys working with adults and children of all ages.

Artist Brian Sonia-Wallace — Typewriter Island

In a novel approach to breaking down barriers between writing and the general public, Brian Sonia-Wallace and his “public typewriter” transformed the stories people shared into instant-poems on the spot for participants to take home as a memento of their experience.

Brian spent two weeks writing poems for those who seeked him out and unsuspecting passersby alike. He is currently working to compile the texts created into a single meta-text that weaves together the breadth of experiences on the island.
Brian Sonia-Wallace

Traveling poet Brian Sonia-Wallace has made a career of helping people tell their stories with the help of a vintage typewriter through on-demand poetry. His first book of essays, “Do You Need a Poem?”, forthcoming from Harper Collins, is about Brian’s poetic travels across America as Writer-in-Residence for Amtrak, Mall of America, a political campaign, and more.

He started writing poems for strangers in 2012, which led to creating his own company, RENT Poet. Brian compiled some of these poems into his first book, “I Sold These Poems, Now I Want Them Back” (Yak Press, 2016), and his writing has additionally appeared in Rolling Stone, The Guardian, and Rattle. Brian’s work bringing poetry into the mainstream has been profiled in the New York Times, The Guardian, and NPR’s How I Built This. Brian is based in Los Angeles, and his favorite animal is, and has always been, the three-toed sloth.

 Artists were selected through a juried process.

2019 JURY

Luis Edgardo Cotto’s background in arts administration spans more than 20 years, working in Hartford, Seattle and Washington, D.C., and he currently sits on the advisory board of the Cambridge Arts Council.

Prior to joining the MCC, was Executive Director of Egleston Square Main Street (ESMS), located on the border of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury from 2014-2018. Luis is originally from Hartford, CT where he served on the Hartford City Council from 2008 until 2012. As a City Councilor, Luis was known as a champion for the Parks, Arts and Immigrant rights while also serving as primary care provider for his newborn son. From 2004 to 2007, Luis and his sisters ran a Spanish language coffeehouse and bookstore named La Paloma Sabanera, bringing Ray Oldenburg’s third place concept to life.
Lucas Cowan became The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy’s first Public Art Curator in 2014. Previously, he directed the Public Art Program for the Maryland State Arts Council, where he spearheaded the passage of legislation requiring all state-funded capital project to include public art in their construction, and was the Senior Curator of Exhibits for Millennium Park and the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture in Chicago, IL. He has curated and managed dozens of public art commissions and exhibitions of work by artists such as: Mark di Suvero, Jun Kaneko, Thomas Sayre, Shinique Smith, Sui Jianguo and Mehdi Ghadyanloo.

Cowan has served on juries and panels across the United States, and has consulted on cultural park planning for cities such as San Francisco and Chicago. In 2016, Cowan was elected to the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Council and previously served on the board of trustees for the International Sculpture Center. Cowan is a founding member of the Advisory Council for Cold Hollow Sculpture Park in Vermont, Madison Square Park Public Art Consortium, NY, Dean's Community Advisory Council at Lesley Art+Design, Cambridge MA, and the Punto Urban Arts Museum Advisory Board in Salem, Mass. Cowan attended the Maryland Institute College of Art where he studied Fiber and Material Studies and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Master Program in Arts Administration.
Celena Illuzzi has worked with the National Park Service (NPS) for eighteen years and is currently the Youth Employment and Development Specialist for the National Parks of Boston. She enjoys learning about the significant natural and cultural resources of the NPS, and finds great delight in connecting young people with these amazing resources.

She appreciates the opportunity to work for an agency that values both stewardship and education. In college, Celena studied art and biology, and upon graduation, accepted a position teaching art at a middle school. She returned to graduate school in 1999 and earned a Master’s Degree in Museum Education from Tufts University. It was during her time in graduate school that Celena learned about becoming an educator with the NPS.
Lewenberg has worked for many years with the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park using art as a point of departure for visitor engagement. These initiatives include a summer on Bumpkin Island creating sculptural installation; organizing and co-curating the Bumpkin Island Art Encampment from 2007 to 2011; and developing the Boston Harbor Artist in Residency program.

Lewenberg just completed an 18 month Artist in Residency position at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, where she worked with a variety of regional planners and municipalities on creative projects that built inclusivity in planning efforts, increased appreciation of the natural world, and engaged residents in downtown revitalization efforts. Her artwork has been shown at locations including Medicine Wheel Gallery, the Jewish Community Center, Harbor Arts, and the Charlestown Navy Yard and long term installations are currently at the Boston Children’s Museum and Franklin Park Zoo.
Denise is a long time employee of DCR and has been fortunate to have spent all her service on the Boston Harbor Islands. Before her employment with DCR she alternately lived aboard a vessel and was a resident of Peddocks Island where she became more familiar and devoted to the harbor community. At that time she worked on a lobster boat and commuted to her other job as a Medical Technician.

The islands worked their magic and beckoned her to apply with DCR for a summer position with the Operations crew. Through the years DCR has given her outstanding opportunities learn new skills to care for the islands, create meaningful relationships on the harbor and inspire even the youngest island visitor to return again and again. Denise absolutely loves her job and calls the harbor home.
Courtney is an urban planner who focuses on advancing equitable access to resources in communities. Prior to becoming the Director of Planning for the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, she served as a Senior Planner at the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

An alumna of both Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, before joining the City of Boston she also co-chaired the inaugural Black in Design Conference and worked as both an Innovation Fellow and Innovation Field Lab Coordinator for the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Courtney holds a BA from Northwestern University and received her Master in Urban Planning from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
In this role, Rebecca is responsible for all programming, youth engagement, education, free access and activation for the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park, and waterfront programming and harbor access.

Prior to Boston Harbor Now, she worked at Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage as a production manager of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and special events manager. Rebecca received her bachelor's degree in Anthropology and Art History at Brandeis University. She enjoys traveling, hiking, exploring and spending time with her family.
Kera M. Washington is an applied ethnomusicologist and the founder of Zili, (, an all female world music ensemble that retraces routes of forced exile and cultural resistance through diasporic rhythm and song: roots music of the African Diaspora, or "New World Soul."

Washington is on faculty in the Music Department of Wellesley College, MA, is a Music Teacher at the Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, MA, and is completing a dissertation on Haitian folkloric music, about folkloric arts and identity expressed through the music of Emerante de Pradines Morse. Kera Washington has been performing and teaching music, using Boston as her base, for over two decades. Washington is a multiple instrumentalist, a performer of hand percussion, african harps and "thumb pianos" (she is a beginning player of adungu, ngoni, mbira and akogo), of voice and vocal percussion, of flutes, and of piano. She has studied with master musicians from Haiti, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Brazil, and the United States, and has traveled to Haiti, Brazil, Cuba, Sierra Leone, Palestine, Cape Verde, and VietNam to advance her studies. Washington was a 2018 Boston Harbor Islands Artist in Residence.

Visit for more.
Cynthia Woo is the Director of the Pao Arts Center at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC). The Pao Arts Center opened as a partnership between BCNC and Bunker Hill Community College in May 2017 as Chinatown’s first arts, cultural education center.

Woo started her work in the arts and culture sector as part of the staff that opened the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles in 2003. Fueled by a commitment to strengthen the connection of arts to the community, Woo earned her Masters of Arts in Art History and Museum Studies certificate from Tufts University. Over the past ten years, Woo has worked as the director of programs and special events at LynnArts, Inc., and as the director of community relations at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA). Woo also served an adjunct educator at the Museum of Fine Arts, as the Community Arts Initiative Liaison.

Previous [Re]creation Artists




Artist Cornell Coley leading a drum circle at the 2018 Arts and Culture Cruise

Thanks For cruising with us! This years cruise was Monday, July 8. There will be another next summer!

This is a cruise to celebrate Boston's arts and culture communities, celebrating the many forms of artistic expressions that flow in the Harbor.

This free boat ride features music, performance, poetry, and participatory visual art, showcasing intergenerational and diverse expressions.

With many of our communities located within a short distance from Boston Harbor, Boston Harbor Now in partnership with the National Park Service, through funding from the Boston Cultural Council wishes to introduce (or re-introduce) communities to the enjoyment of Boston Harbor so we can all take advantage of this great resource.

  • Destiny "Divine" Polk: Afro-Indigenous poet, dancer, choreographer, producer, multi-disciplinary artist, community organizer/space holder, art educator and founder of art activist platform Radical Black Girl.
  • DJ Troy Frost: An artist, educator, and DJ born and raised in Dorchester and Roxbury.
  • Marsha Parrilla: Danza Orgánica brings an eclectic mix from their repertory work.
  • Red Panda House: Hip-hop dance group.
  • Amanda Shea: Multidisciplinary artist and spoken word poet.
  • Kera Washington and Zili Misik: Music bridging cultures, continents and generations.
  • Veronica Robles: Mariachi and traditional Latin dance.
  • Billy Dean Thomas, AKA “The Queer B.I.G”: A hip-hop recording artist and composer.
Participating artists included:
  • Ashley Rose and April Andrew: Choreopoem
  • Carolina Prieto: Beginner Salsa Lesson
  • Cornell Coley: Afro-Latin percussion
  • DJ Why Sham: Boston native DJ
  • Freedom Baird: Storytelling as it relates to sea level rise and disappearing landscapes
  • Ja’Hari Ortega and Aminah Yayha: Jewels of Boston Harbor
  • Kera Washington and Zili Misik: Music bridging cultures, continents and generations
  • Kyle Browne: video installation
  • The Myth Makers, Donna Dodson & Andy Moerlein: sculpture and artist talk
  • Neil Horsky: screening of video artwork
  • PJ Goodwin: screening of video artwork
  • Project Method: Hip Hop / Rap Group
  • Red Panda House: Dance Group
  • Veronica Robles: Mariachi and traditional Latin dance