A local artist is using public art to make a statement about gentrification in Boston's Chinatown neighborhood.
Twelve life-size portraits of some of the city's first Chinese immigrants have popped up in the neighborhood as part of a project called "Home Town." The figures were created by artist Wen-ti Tsen who used black-and-white photographs from the early 1900s and carefully colorized, blew up, and mounted the images on wooden boards.
"We all come from a very hard struggling beginning in America," said Tsen.
The cutouts are being strategically placed in high-traffic areas in Chinatown to incite a response and get a conversation going about gentrification. Tsen, 80, is concerned about the area's rapid development, drawing new money and affluent residents, which is forcing out some long-time residents.
"People here realize it very well, but the larger city, we need a lot of education and publicity to know how important it is for Asian Americans to preserve this area as a cultural political center," Tsen said.
Tsen knows he can't compete with deep-pocketed investors, so he's using art as a form of social activism.
"Home Town" is funded with a $10,000 grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts. It's on display through Oct. 2.