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A New Public Art Project Asks: What Does It Mean To Make A Promise?

Now and There Inc/Facebook

At first glance, one of these things is not like the others: "Pope promises to visit Italian quake victims." "New Massachusetts Law Promises Gender Pay Equality." "I promise to listen more and eat better."

The first two are headlines that could be ripped from any newspaper in America over the last few days. The last one is a pledge made by an individual. But all three represent promises—and all could be found in artist Paul Ramirez Jonas's interactive public art project in Dudley Square, "Public Trust."

"Public Trust" asks participants to make a promise public—whether it's to eat more vegetables, travel more, or to live life more fully. That promise is then displayed, anonymously, on a giant billboard alongside other promises made in the past 24 hours by politicians, dieticians, meteorologists, and other public figures. The result forces participants to evaluate the power of our words and the promises we make to ourselves and to one another.

Ramirez Jonas and Kate Gilbert—executive director of the arts organization Now and There, which commissioned "Public Trust"—joined Boston Public Radio to discuss the evolution of the project and where it goes from here. 

"Public Trust" will be on display in Dudley Square until September 2. Afterward, it will move to Kendall Square from September 3-10 and finally Copley Square from September 11-17. To hear more about "Public Trust," tune in to Boston Public Radio above. 

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