Veins of the City: The Underground Art Scene of Boston

By: Abi Brown

Photo by: Ethan McTeague

No one ever talks about us. Us, meaning Bostonians, that is unless their great aunt could afford the care of our world-renowned medical facilities. Or perhaps you had a cousin who could afford one of Boston’s many university’s tuitions. You may also know of us as Titletown after winning multiple Super Bowls, World Series, Championships and Stanley Cups. My point is our universities and hospitals aren’t all there is to this metropolitan. We are a cultural accumulation of underground artists, musicians, and scholars. Students start their futures here with professors who are bearing real-world insight. The best doctors from around the world are at your disposal. Artists fabricate new, embryonic compositions, seemingly in secret and without rules. The people who live somewhere in between these titles are setting the stage for a change that the Hub has been waiting for since its constitutional beginnings. 

Photo by: Ben Proctor

 If you are young, intellectual, a go-getter, or an artist, what would being a Bostonian look like through your eyes? How does the gritty city inspire? I explored this through the lens of two young photographers Ben Proctor and Ethan McTeague.  

Photo by: Ethan McTeague

For McTeague, “Being in Boston at least once a week with 700000+ people and endless street photography along with all the great and unique architecture has inspired me. Photography comes down to the one out of 1000 shots, you fail and improvement, practice makes perfect, always learning new techniques and tips to get that one perfect shot.” Ethan lives in the Greater Boston area and visits the city frequently. His use of light in darkness captures the energy of Boston. Between the loneliness one feels while walking the streets at night and the need to do something bigger than yourself, McTeague captures it. He presents a need to go somewhere. Boston has an abundance of hardworking and competitive people. That energy seems to spread to the spirit of its people. This pressure mixed with grit is obvious in McTeague’s work through his use of fluorescent light against blackness, representing hope and vibrancy; while the buses and cars carry you through the twists and confusion of getting to the top. Getting somewhere in Boston is more determined by one’s talent and work ethic rather than the stereotypical chance and luck you might find in N.Y.C. or the politics and/or family connections you have in L.A.    

Ben’s experience of living in Boston is a little more poetic. He describes: “being in Boston has allowed me to explore the use of scale and material use much more in my photos. In particular, the perspective gained by viewing a skyscraper from below…

I want to create an atmosphere with my photos, almost like you’re lost in a dream.” 

-Ben Proctor

And that he did. Ben is studying Architecture. His style is often experimental. The relationship between photography and architecture for him is hand in hand. Photography helps his visions become more evident. Boston is dreamlike. It does not get the hype of bigger cities like L.A or N.Y.C and because of this, residents remain humble and more true to themselves and their work. It is easy to get lost in the distortion of our winding streets, the planes coming in and out over the harbor, the Pru and fluorescent Citgo sign that greet you when you enter the city. Boston has a weird aura that entwines you and is nearly impossible to put into words. Through Proctor’s imagery, one gets the sense that nothing is real. Within layers of metaphorical consciousness, he strips away reality and captures a moment where things are not as they seem. 

Whether this is a feeling or a dark moment in a beautiful place, Proctor’s dream-esque style portrays the chaotic nature of Boston, while simultaneously diving deeper into himself as an artist. At the same time, McTeague captures a similar essence of the comforting, electric nature of Boston’s people, colors, and buildings. Together, they bring us together with a similar theme- the theme of belonging

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Abigail Brown

I write for fashion & people :)

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