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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

‘Winteractive’ art installations transform Downtown Crossing

Arlo Matthews
One “Winteractive” exhibit, titled “Endgame (Nagg & Nell),” features two clown heads between Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre and the former Felt nightclub.

Many students returning from winter break were shocked to find that the Downtown Crossing area had been transformed into an art exhibit while they were away.

For those already familiar with the location, some of the more obvious installations immediately stand out from the norm. A whale in the middle of the plaza, a unicorn encased in glass outside of State Station and a woman swinging above the end of Winter Street are all striking new additions to a typical commute.

These displays are all part of an event called “Winteractive,” a collection of 16 unique and participatory artworks incorporated into the city with the intention of bringing more people to Downtown Crossing during the cold winter months. 

One of the more pronounced pieces is two clown heads sandwiched in between Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre and the former Felt nightclub, titled “Endgame (Nagg & Nell),” which has been the center of attention for a lot of tourists and locals alike. In fact, some students living in the Modern Theatre dorms get an extremely close-up look at them.

“I can actually touch them if I tried, that’s how close they are,” said Cezara Rusu, a senior at Suffolk living in a room right next to the sculpture. “When I got back I looked outside and I was like ‘Are you serious?’”

Despite Rusu’s unique experience of having one of the sculptures right outside her window, her reaction is a common one. Many students don’t know exactly how to react to all of the new artwork, with some outright saying they don’t understand it but still like it.

“Winteractive” came to be through a partnership with the Québec government, inspired by similar Canadian art festivals that also take place during the winter. Despite this intentional timing, some students seem to think the pieces should’ve been put up during a warmer and perhaps spookier season.

“If this was October it would make a lot of sense. I don’t understand it being called winter when it’s about clowns and it has a creepiness to it,” said Rusu.

Despite the praise that the sculptures have received from locals and tourists alike, numerous reactions have been closer to that of fear, even resulting in some of them being taken down for their realism

A particular point of contention has revolved around “Untitled,” a series of sculptures by Mark Jenkins that resemble real people in dangerous or concerning situations; including the swing suspended between two buildings, a man walking on the underside of stairs and a woman angled against a wall halfway up a building.

“I thought I was going crazy! As a student who lives in the Wyndham, I’m not really in the area where the art pieces were up. So when I started seeing posts about it I thought I was losing my mind or someone was playing some trick on us,” says Kostas Winslow, a sophomore at Suffolk.

But not all the parts of the exhibit are as controversial, as some are meant to be interacted with physically and in a more light-hearted manner. Many play music via a crank that users have to turn, with tunes like “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys being played by the music boxes. Another is a slide shaped like a guitar and another is a collection of lightbulbs that respond to movement and dancing around it.

“I do see the joy it brings to people outside of my window,” said Rusu. “I haven’t seen anything like this anywhere else.”

“Winteractive” will remain in place for a few months longer, running until April 14. Those interested in seeing the pieces while they’re still there can visit for a complete listing of the artworks and their locations.

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About the Contributor
Arlo Matthews, Staff Writer | he/him
Arlo is a junior print/web journalism major and advertising minor from East Haddam, Conn. He is heavily invested in all things arts and entertainment, whether it be music, film, art, or related events in the community. Outside of the Journal, Arlo spends his time writing and releasing folk rock music, as well as co-hosting a radio show. His long-term goal is to work his way into an industry where he can continue to use and spread his passion and creativity.

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    Claire MatthewsFeb 12, 2024 at 7:40 pm

    Saw several pieces yesterday and thought them provocative and exciting. Excellent review.