New Bedford Electrical Boxes Become Artist Canvases

Students of CVPA Foundations classes bring new color to New Bedford with painted electrical boxes!

Mockup of painted electrical box

Designer Professor Lara Henderson is a Full-Time Lecturer in Art & Design and the concentration head for Integrated Studio Arts within the College of Visual and Performing Arts at UMass Dartmouth. Recently, Professor Henderson was commissioned by The Avenue Concept, a public art organization, to paint an electrical box in downtown Providence. She realized that this kind of project would be perfect for the New Bedford community where she works. Working with professors Susanna L. Koetter and Janet A. Fairbairn, Henderson introduced the art of electrical box painting to Foundations 120: 2D Form and Space in Fall 2021.

Lara Henderson in downtown New Bedford with students

With funding from the Community Engagement Initiatives Microgrants, students developed design proposals for painting electrical boxes in the Downtown New Bedford area. In conversation with community organizations such as New Bedford Creative, DATMA, City of New Bedford Planning Department, and the City of New Bedford Tourism Department, first year art students within the class have brought many incredible designs to the table after asking members of the community in New Bedford what exactly they would like to see represented.

Lara Henderson in downtown New Bedford with students

Two boxes were identified by the artists and their community partners for painting. One is by the Green Bean on Union Street, kitty-corner from the Star Store Campus. The other is on the corner of Route 18 and MacArthur Blvd. Henderson mentions “We selected one site because of its proximity to the CVPA New Bedford campus, and the other because it is so drastically different and visible to passing traffic.” There will be one student design chosen for each box by a student and community-based selection committee. The first of selected designs will be painted in the Purchase street location in early May.

For more information about the Electrical Boxes contact Lara Henderson at lhenderson@umassd,edu.

Researched and co-authored by Eden McKenna-Bateman

Electrical box project survey


College of Visual and Performing Arts, Features Impact