ArtBox Salem, MA 2022

It has been a tough few years! The City of Salem, MA has decided to brighten up the city and raise citizens’ spirits with their Positive Thoughts Art Box Project. Following the theme of Positive Thoughts, artists will paint their utility boxes with bright cheerful imagery and incorporate uplifting words into their designs.

My utility box is located on the corner of Boston and Nichols Streets in Salem, MA. When I first saw it, the box was dirty and covered in graffiti and stickers. Once it was cleaned, scraped and primed, it was ready for some Positive Thoughts. My design shows a sunflower garden, full of cheerful flowers, butterflies and bumblebees. The sunflowers march around the box on all sides and positive quotes are painted both on the street side and the sidewalk side.

The street side sports a quote I have seen associated with sunflowers. Sunflowers, which always turn their faces to the sun seem made to illustrate this quote. “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”

I had originally thought this was a quote from Helen Keller, but while doing research I also found it ascribed to Walt Whitman. Diggin deeper, I found that both of these people were using the quote, but had not initiated it. The earliest version I could find is an old Maori proverb, so that is the one I used.

The quote on the sidewalk side is by the Dalai Lama XIV. “To make others happy, practice compassion. To make yourself happy, practice compassion.” I like this quote because sometimes it seems that compassion is lacking in today’s world. But I also like the reminder to also be good to oneself