By Justin Terry
In 2019, Mayor Joseph Petty declared May 8 to be 508 Day, a day dedicated to Worcesterites celebrating their beloved home. This year, the city’s Cultural Development Division is spreading Worcester pride with the “I Am Worcester” photo project. Featuring over 150 photographs of locals, the portraits are to be placed off Shrewsbury Street beside the I-290 Exit 15 off-ramp and at the Jean McDonough Arts Center on Franklin Street. With over 200 images and counting included in the project, these portraits will be shared publicly on a rolling basis. While physical space is limited, all photos are uploaded to a gallery on the city’s website along with the project’s Instagram page.
“I Am Worcester” is a collaboration with the InsideOut Project. In cities around the globe, InsideOut hopes to showcase community members and their stories. Here in Worcester, City Program Assistant and I Am Worcester Project Coordinator Yaffa Fain emphasizes that students are a significant part of Worcester’s identity.
“Students are part of the Worcester story!” she said. “Student participants in the “I Am Worcester” project have shared stories of Tinder dates-turned marriages, internships becoming first jobs, and favorite memories with friends at Worcester restaurants and parks that will last a lifetime.”
Fain works alongside other City of Worcester staff, including the project’s creator Amanda Gregoire and photographer Matt Wright. The team has collaborated with many Worcester institutions to carry out the project, including the Worcester Public Library and the City Parks Division.
With over 35,000 college students in the city, students play an important part in making up the city’s unique identity. Students may join the I Am Worcester photoshoot taking place this Saturday, May 8th at the JMAC from 11am-2pm.
“We are thrilled to offer students the opportunity to be involved in our public art installation on Wednesday, May 5,” Fain said. “ Students may register for volunteer slots to help install the I-290 exit 15 ramp portrait installation from 9am-5pm. We need help mixing paste, aligning posters, and hanging over 160 community portraits – no special skills or equipment necessary, we have all the supplies and appropriate COVID-19 precautions will be implemented to ensure this is a fun, impactful day!”
In the event of rain, the project will be installed the following day on Thursday, May 6. If you’d like to register to volunteer or learn more about the project please visit: