2016 was an eclectic year. My art-video installation exhibits and films premiered in California, Atlanta, Cambridge and Boston. Taught new graduate, undergraduate, online and studio workshop courses; completed three short films; participated in FPAC Open Studios; and built on work begun in 2015 as a member of the City of Boston’s first Artist Residency Cohort. Click on links below for film/video trailers & previews.

‘earth.sky’ 4-projector art/video installation premiered at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA. As America’s first Artist-in-Residence at a National Historic Landmark cemetery (no pressure), I created an inclusive view of our nation’s history through multimedia stories about 16 deceased individuals from the 1830’s to today, plus 19 landscape “tone poems”. National, state and local funding. Project covered by the Boston Globe, American Cemetery Magazine,  BU Today and South Boston Online. Multimedia website and exhibition tour coming 2017.   https://vimeo.com/191989120  

‘Peach Pie’ narrative short film premiered in California and Atlanta film festivals. Peach Pie is about mental illness in an urban military family. Reviewed by Los Angeles’s Black Cultural Events Weekly.   http://www.peachpiefilm.com

“Jesseca Ferguson: Cabinet of Curiosity” - New artist profile documentary short film on the internationally renowned book artist and pinhole photographer. https://vimeo.com/181109259

Teaching: Assigned “Night of The Living Dead” to students in my AVID editing class at Emerson College for a Halloween day movie trailer exercise. Fun ensued. Encouraged international graduate students to film creative monologues in any language. Taught advanced Final Cut Pro editing at LEGO headquarters in Connecticut for AGI Training, hugged giant toy. Led Summer art/filmmaking workshops at my new studio in Boston.

“Charles Coe: Man of Letters” -  New author profile documentary short film about the award-winning poet and musician Charles Coe, and his decision to ‘forgive the sins’ of his long-dead parents.  https://vimeo.com/181266108

Speaking Engagements: Invited to give several talks in 2016, including the Association For Environmental Studies and Sciences annual conference at American University, Washington DC. Presented about my artist residency at Harvard Forest’s Long Term Ecological Research institute, funded by National Science Foundation. Also presented “Peach Pie” to Harvard Square Scriptwriters. http://www.hsswriters.com/two-screenings-and-their-stories-monday-october-3rd-2016/

Music - Hillary Clinton Fundraiser: Kathryn Howell (vocals) and I (guitar) performed live jazz at several different venues throughout 2016...But the October HRC fundraiser in Newton provided the most memorable contrast between expected and actual outcomes. www.robertoandkathryn.com

For 2017-2018, I’m creating a new art/video Virtual Reality project about mass incarceration; finishing a multi-screen immersive exhibition about aging; producing a documentary with the Nipmuc American Indians and University of Massachusetts Architecture Department; producing a new TV/web series, and...a couple of surprises.

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AuthorRoberto Mighty

- Exhibit: "earth.sky"

- Genre: Multimedia installation: Site-specific video, audio, music, text & voice

- Location: Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA

- Dates: May 9th and 10th, 2015

- Info: http://mountauburn.org/2015/roberto-mightys-earth-sky-exhibition-planned-for-cambridge-open-studios/#more-26183

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It has been a little over a year since I began roaming historic Mount Auburn Cemetery with video cameras, still cameras and digital audio recorders, looking for compelling stories about some of the people interred here since 1831.  Most of the inscriptions are terse:

MARY A. COOK

MAR. 21, 1832

MAY 25, 1905

MOTHER

But others tell a story. The monument to Peter Byus reads like the preface to a novel:

IN MEMORY OF PETER BYUS

BORN IN HAMPSHIRE COUNTY VIRGINIA. A SLAVE.

AT THE AGE OF ABOUT THIRTY-SIX

HE FLED TO BOSTON, FOR FREEDOM. WHERE

HE RESIDED FOR THE LAST THIRTY YEARS, OF HIS LIFE.

HE DIED THE 27TH OF FEBRUARY 1867

AGED 66 YEARS.

HE WAS A SINCERE CHRISTIAN, A TRUE FRIEND AND AN HONEST MAN.

Peter Byus’ narrative is further fleshed out by his last will and testament, a document that lives on to this day. It bears wrinkled, yellowing witness to a uniquely American journey. The language of that time is poetic, philosophical and thoughtful.

March 25, 1867

"I, Peter Byus of Boston in the County of Suffolk and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, being in feeble health, but of sound and disposing mind & memory, also - conscious of the uncertainty of human life, do make, publish & ordain - this my last Will & Testament…”

Against all odds, Byus becomes a man of means.  Like many people who expect to pass away, he arranges to leave some funds for a relative. But pause here, dear Reader, and consider the implications of this bequest.

“I give, devise and bequeath to my brother Alfred Brown the sum of five hundred dollars, and as my said Brother is now in one of the Southern States & either a slave or lately emancipated, so there may be some difficulty in communicating with him…”

Byus goes on to specify items and funds from his estate for his friends and for the woman who nursed him during his illness. But throughout his will, he is mindful of those less fortunate than he.

“I give, devise & bequeath all my furniture, books & all articles of use & ornament to the Union Mission & home for little wanderers in Baldwin Place, to be used & appropriated, so far as may be, for the benefit of Children of Color…”

Byus can’t forget the millions of recently freed slaves. People who, like himself, had been sentenced to a lifetime of chattel slavery solely by accident of birth.

“All the rest and residue of my estate I give and bequeath to the New England Freedmen’s Aid Society to be appropriated by them to the use and benefit of the most necessitous of my own race and color.”

Throughout, Byus’ final document shows his enduring religious faith.

“& I am grateful for this day of apparent deliverance of my race in this Country from the degradation and barbarism of slavery and I am grateful to my God, that after having been a slave myself for thirty seven years, that my deliverance was effected and that I have been enabled to save something that I can leave behind me to aid in the blessed work of elevating & saving those of my Brethren whom the Providence of God is now emancipating.”

I have filmed and photographed Peter Byus’ monument in the heat of Summer, a blizzard of winter, and in Spring and Fall. It never fails to break my heart. For my multimedia exhibit, “earth.sky”, I asked Tyrone Latin, a gentleman with a fine voice, to come to the studio and record excerpts from the Will. In the finished piece -- one of eighteen created exclusively for this project -- we hear Latin reading Byus while these images float by on three screens. Please come and share in this experience on May 9th and 10th. Details below. -

Video Preview: https://vimeo.com/120302725

Special Thanks: Stephen Pinkerton, Docent, for original historical research and image of last will and testament

------------------------------------------------------------------------------On May 9th and 10th, as part of Cambridge Open Studios, Mount Auburn Cemetery will be presenting a weekend-long preview of earth.sky, a site-specific multimedia installation for Mount Auburn’s Story Chapel, consisting of synchronized high definition video and audio projections onto interior architectural surfaces within the 19th-century structure.

In earth.sky, audiences experience a uniquely emotional, historical journey through landscape cinematography, high-fidelity audio, music, and photography, while hearing the inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking and often uplifting words of individuals interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery from its inception to today.

Story Chapel will be open to visitors from 12 – 6 p.m. on May 9th and 10th and I'll  be on site from 12 – 5 pm during the earth.sky installation. All are welcome. This project is supported by a grant from the Cambridge Arts Council.

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Roberto Mighty, MFA

Artist-in-Residence, Mount Auburn Cemetery 2014-2017

• Online Gallery: http://roberto-mighty-rjj1.squarespace.com  

• getting.older. multimedia Installation 2015

• earth.sky  multimedia installation Mount Auburn Cemetery 2015, 2017

• Wind, Sand & Stars  Truro Center for the Arts Gallery at Castle Hill 2014

• Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Lens of Society 2014

• Trees of My City, Scandinavian Cultural Center 2013

• National Science Foundation Screening 2013

• Harvard Fisher Museum, Multimedia Installation 2013

• Artist-in-Residence, Harvard Forest 2011-2012

• MacBeth, Actors Shakespeare Company 2012

• Zalmen Or The Madness of God, The Lab at Harvard 2012

• Lesley University Gallery, Multimedia Installation 2011

• Trees of My City, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University 2011

 

 


Roberto Mighty is a filmmaker, new media artist, fine art photographer, educator and musician who uses storytelling, art and interactive technology in his work. He is Artist-in-Residence at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Adjunct Professor at Emerson College's Department of Visual and Media Arts, Visiting Artist at Truro Center for the Arts, and teaches private multimedia workshops across the USA live and online.

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AuthorRoberto Mighty