Last month, over 1,500 visitors celebrated MassQ Ball 2022: Origin in the Arboretum’s landscape. Part of the Arboretum’s sesquicentennial celebrations and created by Castle of our Skins and multimedia artist Daniel Callahan, the event was the culmination of six months of MassQ Ball programming held throughout the Arboretum’s landscape that centered the diverse artistic expressions of Boston’s communities of color. On July 9, participants met in the conifer collection—an area where humans have convened for over 7,000 years—for a day of performances and activities to celebrate what makes us unique and unified.
Celebrated along the paths and plant collections of the Arboretum, the MassQ Ball brought a diverse group of artists and participants together to explore connections between nature, personal identity, community, and cultural roots. The event commenced with ceremonial smudging and land blessings by representatives of the Massachusett tribe. Featured arts in first half of the MassQ Ball (2:00–4:00 p.m.) included spoken word, Brazilian capoeira, Japanese Taiko drumming, and performances of Indigenous dance, Hip Hop dance, and African dance. The second half (5:00–7:00 p.m.) featured more spoken word, vivid creations in fashion design, black classical music, Korean traditional dance, and traditional Mexican music. Throughout the MassQ Ball, audiences enjoyed live MassQing (application of paint to the face) by local visual artists, nature-based art installations, and a “sound bath” experience in the landscape.