Weiying Olivia Huang is an award winning documentary filmmaker. Her documentary ‘City as Canvas: Above the Free Walls’ won the Best Human Interest Documentary at the World Premiere Film Awards in 2020. Winner of the Best New England Documentary at Shawna Shea Film Festival in 2021. The film, funded by a grant from the Cambridge Arts Council, and was screened internationally as well over 10 other film festivals. Her previous documentary, 2017’s ‘The Last Sacred Place of Poetry: Grolier Poetry Book Shop,’ has likewise been screened at many film festivals, as well as libraries and universities.

Website: https://oliviahuang.yolasite.com

Artist Statement:

I want to tell stories in a way that will connect with people’s souls and spirits that will lift them up and bring them to feel more at one with others. 

I am interested in people’s stories and human connection. My work revolves mostly around people, communities, arts, culture, and is full of stories that I find deeply moving, encouraging, and motivational.

In 2017, I completed a short documentary film of The Last Sacred Place of Poetry_ Grolier Poetry Bookshop, which provides an insight into a solo poetry bookshop community with 90 years of history. It was a film that helped me learn about community and cultures, befriend various people and gather many new experiences and memories. It was a story of a historical bookshop I wished to share with the community and world. The film has been officially selected to 11 film festivals and screenings around the communities such as public libraries, universities, Community Television. I found out that a documentary film is the best way for people to relate with, feel, learn, and consume.

In 2019, I worked on a feature length documentary about the legal graffiti art movement. The project is supported by Cambridge Arts Council and Mass Cultural Council. I walk by Modica Way every day. I see the graffiti artworks change every day. Some pieces are excellent! However, a wonderful piece of work might only last for a couple of hours. I started photographing the graffiti works whenever I would see a new piece. I would also stop and talk with the graffiti artists. I want to dig out the stories from those ordinary people and their daily life. I wonder what the story behind, emotion and the voice haven't been heard.
I approach filmmaking from an artist’s perspective incorporating my knowledge of art and photography all of which is coupled with an obsessive creative inquisitiveness. I truly love compressing a documentary film into a brief space of time.

Project Description:

This project is a public film screening.

City as Canvas: Above the Free Walls is a feature-length documentary exploring the legal graffiti and urban art movement along the Modica Way, in Cambridge, one of two legal graffiti walls in Massachusetts. ‘City as Canvas: Above the Free Walls’ won the Best Human Interest Documentary at the World Premiere Film Awards in 2020, and the best New England Documentary at the Shawna Shea Film Festival in 2021.

The film showcases the extraordinary street artists whose talent and dedication have transformed a public space into a walkway of uncommon creativity, a passionate forum to articulate concerns both personal and social.

The story follows the artist Jeremy Harrison, Harriet Wood, and Luke as they paint at the Modica Way. The protagonists combine indigenous flavors of artistic expression with the blending and blurring of work, life, and graffiti arts to create truly original artworks. Reflecting on the complexity and depth of their world, along with other artists, developing a voice that speaks to a new generation of the legal graffiti world in public art. In doing so, they progress their view of graffiti itself, seeing it essentially as an art form of ephemeral creations.

I met Jeremy Harrison during the production of my 2019 documentary, and he became one of my film’s main characters. He has been painting since he was 14, he loves art, and is eager to see his work in galleries. He comes to paint in the graffiti alley whenever he has time. In the year 2021, I am proud to see that Harrison has commissioned a public mural from the city of Boston as one of the featured artists in the press. Nowadays, this ’Graffiti Alley‘ attracts tourists, world artists, and local residents, some who have worked in galleries, and some who have only worked on the streets.

The project presents new insights of street art into the communities of Boston residents through visual film screening with Q&A with filmmakers, artists. The project designed 5 screenings with Q&A sessions.

The project will
1) be inspirational for the insight
2) explore the art and environment with street art
3) developing a voice that speaks to a youthful generation of legal graffiti art and culture.

The project designed 5 screenings with Q&A sessions, in public libraries, art centers, community centers in the neighborhood of Dorchester, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Chinatown. The events can be on location or virtually. It depends on the Covid-19 situation.