macarthur park

Portraits of Hope

For four  weeks this summer, MacArthur Park in central Los Angeles will be enjoying a spectacular visual transformation, as thousands of large, colorful spheres can be seen floating on the vast lake. These vibrantly-hued spheres, as large as 4, 5, and 6 ft., are spread throughout the lake as part of a major public revitalization project.

Part of the program Portraits of Hope(POH) founded by brothers Ed Massey and Bernie Massey in 1995, it seeks to enrich the lives of children and adults who may be coping with serious illness, disabilities, adversity, or socioeconomic challenges thru creative therapy. Traditionally, POH selects iconic public settings and symbols for its visual makeovers that people take for granted and gives kids a chance to transform them into major public artworks. Collaborating with schools, hospitals, senior centers, and various programs throughout the nation, they have already transformed NYC taxi fleets, airships, planes, buildings, lifeguard towers, NASCAR race cars, and rescue vehicles among many others.

Between 2—3000 spheres (painted by children and adults themselves!) will float on the lake on a rotating basis—continually changing the look of the park and lake. Traditional to POH, most of the art is floral themed—as flower is the universal symbol of beauty, joy, life, nature, and renewal.  Saturated with vibrant, eye-popping hues, the spheres will spread throughout the lake, creating a majestic view of spheres interacting with water with optimal spatial dynamics and reflections.Apart from the fact this provides a fun, educational opportunity for participants to express themselves, it duals as creative therapy instilling pride and self-confidence in children.

“The fact that POH projects are high-profile, ambitious, and one-of-a-kind makes the participation and enthusiasm even more special for the children. It provides them with an opportunity to say “I did that!” often on the national and world stage,  and feel that they were part of creating something very special,” said Bernie Massey, in a Q&A session.

POH seeks to include children and adults from all kinds of backgrounds and circumstances. Over 7000 participants from more than 1,000 hospitals, schools, and social service agencies across the country have directly participated in these projects. Special brushes and methodologies have been developed for children and adults with illnesses and physical disabilities, including telescope brushes for those in wheelchairs, shoe brushes for people unable to use their hands, and fruit-flavored mouth brushes for kids and adults with limited or no movement in their limbs.

– By Joanne K

(Full article available in print)