Coffee culture: Starbucks brings Betsy Silverman's recycled magazine art to Harvard Square

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Coffee culture: Starbucks brings Betsy Silverman's recycled magazine art to Harvard Square
Betsy Silverman,Out of Town News(30 in. 50 in.).

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.- The “Out of Town News” returns to Harvard Square! Read all about it!

No, the beloved and iconic newsstand building – for decades the epicenter of this Cambridge neighborhood – remains shuttered, as it has been since 2019. But the newsstand’s pulsing heyday is depicted in one of two new artworks displayed in the recently opened Starbucks coffee shop in the Abbot Building at 1 John F. Kennedy Street.

Both artworks were created by the Boston-area artist, Betsy Silverman, who practices a unique style of creating images with stunning realism entirely from recycled magazines. “There is no paint, ink, or pencil,” Silverman explains. “I use magazines, scissors, and glue, the way other artists use brushes and paint. My color palette is the thousands of magazines I have in my studio.” A close look at Silverman’s artwork reveals how she creates a sense of three-dimensionality through the precise and painstaking placement of layer upon layer of carefully cut pieces of paper – each having carefully selected colors, pictorial content, and gradations of intensity. According to Silverman, some of the magazine slivers she uses are cut so finely that they have to be applied with a magnifying glass and tweezers.

Silverman’s art also maintains an underlying ecological consciousness, by embracing the use of recycled raw materials. Her study of sustainable architecture, while earning a degree at the Rhode Island School of Design, helped to inspire her technique, she explains. “My art explores and refashions the content that contemporary culture preserves, in a sense, but also – literally – throws away, which increases my awareness of the need for environmental sustainability in all aspects of our society. I love the notion of recycling discarded magazines and turning them into art.”

Starbucks picked Betsy Silverman to create artworks for the new Harvard Square location, as part of Starbucks’ effort to use its coffee shops as venues to show off local artists. “I was honored to have Starbucks ask me to create art for the Harvard Square location, especially because my use of recycled materials aligns with Starbucks’ drive toward environmental sustainability” she explains. “I am also impressed by Starbucks’ efforts to help promote the work of innovative artists, in various U.S. stores and around the world.”

The head of Starbucks’ global art program, Lara Behnert, explained:“We love finding emerging artists with a focused perspective and style, who feel in line with how we are – optimistic, thoughtful and full of new ideas. There’s an essence of joy at Starbucks, and we want people to feel that through our collaboration with these artists.”

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