Curator and arts activist Peter Bruun comments on Threads Unbroken, the art exhibit and forums at Lawrence Public Library:
EAGLE-TRIBUNE: How is this project like or unlike others that you have organized?
PETER BRUUN: The most obvious difference is this is a project in Massachusetts — not Maryland, where I have been for years and have established relationships with numerous arts- and behavioral-health stakeholders statewide and locally, and where I have had a fairly keen sense of the community and pressing issues. Not so for me in the Merrimack Valley: This was new territory.
What I came to discover as a significant difference between Threads Unbroken and any previous project is what I would call the degree of need — the depth of appetite — for such programming to allow for open-ended sharing (and healing). Whether in North Andover, or Andover, or Lawrence, this is a community that is hurting.
That part is not new: Communities all over are hurting from sky-rocketing mental health challenges, suicide rates, and the ongoing opioid epidemic. But this particular community — the Merrimack Valley across geographic and demographic boundaries — needs more outlets to share their pain in safe, public spaces. In that, in sharing, there is a healing at the communal level.
The level of need for that communal fellowship, sharing, and trust-building is greater than I’ve seen elsewhere, and this sort of programming can address that.
Another obvious difference is the Spanish/English piece of this. I’ve not worked in a community before where it is so obviously necessary to address language barriers for the sake of authentic inclusion.
In terms of biases and racial, cultural, or ethnic divides, that piece is not new: In Baltimore and any other community I’ve worked with, there are silos built around identity that have needed holes poked in them. That piece is not…