Augmented Reality – Evolution of a Small Town

May 11, 2024 - June 23, 2024

May 11, 2024 - June 23, 2024

The Zullo Gallery in Medfield will be hosting a public “launch talk” at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 16 at 456A Main St., about its first-ever augmented reality (AR) exhibit, “Evolution of a Small Town,” that runs May 11 to June 23, and showcases a dozen Greater Boston artists whose work can be viewed with a cell phone or iPad in various locations around Medfield.

An artists’ reception will also be held at the Zullo Gallery from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 30 – all welcome/free – weather permitting rooftop deck will be open till 9pm – hors’d ouvres, refreshments, beer & wine.

Featured presenter for the free May 16 launch talk is Hoverlay co-founder Nicolas Robbe, who has been working with the Zullo and 11 artists over many weeks to teach them about augmented reality, guide their work, and help the gallery with the innovative initiative funded by a grant from the Medfield Foundation Legacy Fund. Acton-based Hoverlay specializes in the development and creative use of AR technology.

At a more fundamental level, Zullo Gallery Executive Director Bill Pope noted that the talk is specifically designed to help members of the public better understand AR and try their hands at using the Hoverlay app so they can fully experience all of the Zullo exhibit sites. “We’re excited to expand artistic horizons by taking an exhibit out of the Zullo and literally bringing it to the streets of Medfield,” said Pope.

“As one of the first galleries to virtually expand into its community through augmented reality, Zullo is pioneering a new way to bring local art directly to the public,” said Robbe. “This innovative approach not only transcends the physical boundaries of a gallery, but also forms a deeper connection between local artists and the community.”

Participating artists hail from the local area. Most have jumped on as exhibitors motivated by the chance to learn cutting-edge digital medium. Inside the Zullo Gallery itself, a variety of AR experiences are featured,  including exhibits related to Medfield history, interactive drawings, and small-town connection to the outside world via an astronaut on display.

Other artistic AR subjects as part of the exhibit, include:

    • Former George Inness home and artist studio (“Lake Nemi” inspired virtual sculpture – 406 Main St.)
    • Medfield Public Library/Gazebo (confetti celebration – 468 Main St.)
    • Medfield Historical Society & Main/North St. power box (Jack the Dog – 6 Pleasant St. & 478 Main St.)
    • Medfield Town House (symbol of community & action – 459 Main St.)
    • Rail Trail (train theme – Farm Street intersection)
    • Peak House Heritage Center (Colonial garden – 347 Main St.)
    • Old Meetinghouse/First Parish UU church (ghostly experience – 26 North St.)
    • Baker Pond (suspended balls over the water – North & Frairy St.)
    • Medfield State Hospital (historical- & nature-themed work – Hospital Road)
    • Bank of America (electric vehicle charging station – 406 Main St. parking lot).

Prior to visiting the sites, it is recommended that viewers download the Hoverlay AR browser app here:

The AR experiences can be found on the ZulloARCanvas in the app, or by scanning a QR code on display in the various locations.

The artists showcased in the exhibit are:

    • Polo Barrera,Walpole, MA

      I work in different mediums depending on my interests and direction. My work can be representational or abstract. Humor and a disregard for technique can often play a part.

      My idea for this piece grew out of the history of Medfield. The First Parish Church captured my interest, being the 1st meeting house over 3oo years ago before evolving into a church. History makes me think of people from the past and the spirituality of church makes me think of spirits. I thought a fun idea would be a ghost showing up at what used to be the meeting house, as it did 300 years ago, and revealing itself to communicate in a form we can understand. Dance and music plays a part as it is a universal language understood over time.

      Being part of Zullo’s AR project has been a great opportunity to work in a new medium.

    • Kathy Desmond, Cambridge, MA

      My work examines the role of imagination and reaction in the construction of place and identity. The movement in my work is emotional, philosophical, and reactive. I incorporate a range of media in my installations and explore presence through everyday objects and gestures. Connections and interactions with others are important themes in my work. When you engage with someone, you realize your identity is not simple solitary—but something created in community. Our identities and places we call home are entangled with each other. As Karan Barad notes, “To be entangled is not simply to be intertwined with another, as in the joining of separate entities, but to lack an independent, self-contained existence. Existence is not an individual air. Individuals do not preexist in their interactions; rather, individuals emerge through and as part of the entangled intra-relating …” In this piece for the Zullo Gallery, my objective is for the viewer to bring his or her own curiosity to the experience and see place, self, and others in a new way through this interaction. I had participated in a Zullo Gallery exhibition a number of years ago and really enjoyed the experience. I appreciate the community of artists that Zullo has fostered, and the opportunities to create new work around specific themes.

      In this piece for the Zullo Gallery, my objective is for the viewer to bring his or her own perspective to the experience and see place, self, and others in a new way. I also wanted to bring some experimentation and playfulness to the experience so that viewers can see new possibilities in the people and places they encounter every day.

      I have worked in 3D design, installation, and animation. In some ways the piece connects to this prior work, but what’s exciting about it is that it allows the visitor to have agency in how and where they experience the work—the work accompanies them wherever they go. Each view is a potentially new storyline, because the work also interacts with the participants’ prior relationship to the setting. Visitors can experiment with different ways of viewing the piece, which enriches the potential application of the work beyond its initial design.

    • Gail Fischer, Needham, MA

      I am Gail Fischer a photographer from Needham, Massachusetts.

      My augmented reality project is called “ Medfield, Hospital Hill, going from day into night”. Over the past few years I have used the grounds at hospital hill has a blank canvass to play with light painting. The buildings are wonderful to stand in front of and make designs with flashlights and color plexiglass shapes in total darkness.

      When Bill at Zullo Gallery asked if anyone would be interested in participating in the augmented project by Hoverlay, I immediately said “yes”. My thinking was “what an interesting way to present what I have been doing at the hospital to the greater public”

      I am a total novice with limited computer skills, but I wanted to learn a new tool and I find Hospital Hill to have an interesting history. My intention with working with light at night in a closed down mental institution is not to scare but rather rejoice in their prior lives. The project expanded while putting together the two main light painting pieces to include several additional projects including signage, the cemetery gate, and graves on the property.

      I hope all who see this project experience the little nuances and hidden images in each piece. My work has been primarily about recording lifes moments but the Hoverlay app has inspired me to expand into a more multi image space. It is also fun to play with especially when looking for the images that are hidden behind other images. Just scan the QR codes.

    • Ann Gorbett, Walpole, MA

      I knew very little about augmented reality prior to starting this project. My usual tools as an artist are oil paints and palette knives so what drew me to this project was learning to create art using a whole new non tactile medium. Once I started immersing myself into it, I found myself thinking about ideas and ways to enhance my projects all the time. This innovative and fresh approach to art pulled me in immediately and didn’t let go. So much so that I couldn’t limit myself to just one piece. I ended up creating four different experiences.

      I am hoping that the public will enjoy the interactive, immersive, and often surprising experiences of this exhibit. It’s so easy for anyone at any age to enjoy walking around Medfield with just their phones, experiencing an art exhibit that celebrates the town’s past with an eye towards the future. Being a part of this project has opened up so many new ideas about what creating art really means. It can be so much more than just applying paint to a canvas. It has made me realize that one of the most important parts of creating art is the viewer’s emotional involvement with the work.

    • Tatianya Keating, Millis, MA

      I feel so fortunate for the opportunities the Zullo Gallery has gifted me throughout the years. I have recently gone back to school for STEM. Participating in the AR exhibit is a fun way for me to combine my visual art background, new Engineering practices, and passion for community. The Medfield Town Hall-a symbol of community & action- is the perfect location to install PRESS PLAY. Histories are weaved together overlapping and creating movement in time.

      History can halt time and stop forward momentum. Time can accelerate, leaving us feeling pushed and longing for the past. We have been told “history repeats itself,” why would it do this? I have built three structures representing the past, present, & future of the layered space in which our weaved histories play. Where is it going? How will you t? My intentions are purely playful. I hope the viewers have fun interacting with art in this vibrant community, and I hope they feel inspired to get involved -however that looks to them.

      I primarily work in 2D. Creating in AR has opened my eyes to an infinite 3D coordinate system, while considering a new interactive engagement between the viewer & artist. I look forward to tinkering more in this medium.

    • Michael Lewy, Jamaica Plain, MA

      Inspired by the movie Alphaville and the time machine from Je t’aime Je t’aime. Beta 64 tells the story of an alien supercomputer that has taken over society and banished all art and poetry. Secret agent Louie Caution has been tasked with saving us from this dystopian world.

      Michael Lewy is an artist based in Boston. He works in various media, including augmented reality, virtual reality, photography, and video. He is the author of Chart Sensation, a book of PowerPoint charts, and has shown at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, the Pacic Film Archives, and Carroll and Sons Gallery in Boston. He is also the creator of the current augmented reality show Alpha 60, located in the Emerald Necklace area of Jamaica Plain.

    • Sasja Lucas, Hyde Park, MA

      My involvement in the Zullo exhibit was ignited by an invitation to an enlightening information session hosted by Zullo Gallery director, Bill Pope. This session provided a gateway for me to explore something entirely new to me—Augmented Reality. Led by the insightful guidance of Nicolas Robbe, CEO and developer of Acton-based Hoverlay, the session oered a comprehensive overview of augmented reality’s artistic potential, accompanied by engaging discussions and Q&A sessions. Intrigued by the concepts unveiled, I felt compelled to contribute artistically.

      In Portraits and Words, I aimed to showcase a selection of my extensive portfolio consisting of over 3000 portrait drawings crafted over the years. Focusing solely on my line drawings executed in permanent marker or ink, I arranged them in a labyrinthine manner, inviting viewers to navigate through a physical space. The enchantment lies in the spatial distortion, with some images towering monumentally while others shrink into minuscule forms. This intentional distortion mirrors life’s dynamic nature, where individuals vary in significance, either by choice or just happenstance. Approaching each portrait initiates an 8-10 second voice recording, contributed by poets including myself and friends. These recordings are initially, deliberately unrelated to the specific portrait, embodying an ethos of embracing chance, spontaneity, and randomness. This approach allows for the forging of a creative path untethered to predetermined outcomes.

      In In the Woods, I oer a glimpse into my photographic exploration of wooded landscapes and nature. Many of these photographs defy conventional norms, captured through unconventional techniques that yield unexpected imagery. Fragmented, distorted, and chopped-up visuals take on an otherworldly allure when immersed in the augmented reality experience, offering viewers a disorienting yet enlightening journey through the woods. My aspiration is for viewers to perceive the familiar environment in a fresh, unconventional light.

      In Future Town: Rondo con Abbondono, I employ monotype and color silkscreen techniques to envision a futuristic architectural marvel. The structure appears tangible with walls, ceilings, and floors, yet viewers transcend these boundaries, venturing through and observing from alternate perspectives. The resulting Cubistic space disassembles and reassembles forms and shapes, providing a multifaceted portrayal from varying viewpoints. As both a visual artist and poet, my work embodies the ethos of discovery through the creative process itself, rather than adhering to predetermined outcomes. My ultimate hope is for viewers to depart with an augmented perception of reality, their understanding of mass, space, and time expanded through an unfamiliar journey.

    • Noah Paessel, Leverett, MA

      Drawn to the challenge of blending local art history with modern media, I was inspired to participate in the Zullo Gallery’s mixed-reality exhibition, which celebrates Medfield’s past and future through interactive and traditional art forms. Ephemeral Forms utilizes AR technology to project George Inness’s “Lake Nemi” onto an organic, virtual, anemone-like form. This installation invites viewers to interact with the artwork by walking around it, gradually uncovering one of George Inness’s most famous paintings from a singular perspective. I hope this experience allows viewers to explore my sculpture while engaging in a unique and intimate encounter with “Lake Nemi.” By merging the visible with the invisible, I aim to reflect and react to Inness’s pursuit of imbuing his landscape paintings with nature’s ephemeral and unseen qualities. This aspect is particularly resonant as viewers discover the artwork in fragments, mirroring Inness’s technique of revealing the spiritual through the natural world.

      The opportunity to explore augmented reality has opened up a new dimension in my artistic practice, enabling the creation of site-specific works that are informed by artists of the past. This technology fosters a more immersive and interactive experience, encouraging viewers to engage with the installation from all angles and connect more deeply with the site’s historical and cultural significance. The support of the Zullo Gallery has been essential in realizing this project, emphasizing their commitment to fostering innovative art that resonates with the community.

    • Duncan Reid, Norwood, MA

      When the Zullo Gallery first informed me about their project, I didn’t know much about augmented reality, and I really didn’t understand what the gallery’s proposal was trying to achieve. How would we, traditional artists, engage in such a high-tech, nerd-universe kind of expression? But the software guys made it easy. Once I saw what they had done in the past and how they had created a user interface, it was simply a matter of embracing the structure of the process.

      In discussing the theme of the growth of a small town, I found myself ruminating the relationship that a small town can have with the outside world. We all contribute in small ways to the world. Those contributions are magnified and turned back to us every day. This is reflected in the very nature of the project. We’re using a technology derived by a team of innovators from all over the world, that has an interface available through technology giants, to generate an intimate personalized experience.

      For me, this kind of interaction resonates in the icon of the astronaut. Any spacesuit that has been put to use has been hand-crafted. They are hand-sewn and assembled, and often customized to a particular wearer, by people from the smallest of towns to the most populated cities. Those who travel to space are the personified zenith of our technological capacity of human exploration — and our hand-craftsmanship travels with them.

      When I saw how the dimensional aspect worked for this project, I felt it was important to express something sculptural. I have not sculpted in a long time, but my plan became to hand-craft something that – working with a reflection of itself in augmented reality – explored the humanity hidden within technology. How does a small town evolve into the future using the inspiration gleaned from the outside world — which has its roots in pedestrian life?

    • Dan Robartes Roanoke, Texas, MHS Class of 2008

      I chose Farm Street Station as my subject because of its proximity to the house I grew up in. The old Farm Street station was located where Farm Street intersected with the railroad – now the Medfield Rail Trail. It was on the northeast side of the intersection. You can reach the original site by walking the Rail Trail to Farm Street.

      I recreated the station in 3D based on a photograph. It is a black and white photo taken from the front right of the station. There is a man standing on the platform in front of the small building, dressed in a suit. The photo was taken in 1909 and the building stood until the 1950s. I have been through the area many times but didn’t know this station existed. This is an opportunity to explore a location that was meaningful to me, but that I didn’t know the full history of. It is a simple building, but it is a piece of town history. In creating this work I took the time to really examine and contemplate it.

    • Amy Schubert, Medfield, MA

      I realized early into learning about AR that the technology would free me from challenges I had faced with some experimental oil paintings I have done previously. These paintings had multiple layers that I cut into complex shapes and arranged in front of each other. I tried a number of different approaches, and every time I ran into hurdles where materials delicate enough to carve small details out of would also bend under gravity. With AR, I don’t have to worry about gravity. I can place objects anywhere, and viewers can move their phone anywhere, even through sections of my image, in order to see the entirety of each layer.

      My work focuses on the colonial kitchen garden at the Peak House. I use a pile of fallen leaves as a backdrop for looking back in time at this historical garden and its plants’ many uses. In making this image, I thought about the colonial kitchen garden as a reciprocal relationship between people and the ecosystem. Every plant in the garden had speficic uses in the household, including as food, medicine, and natural dyes. Many of the plants are indigenous to Massachusetts and therefore have long established roles in our local ecosystem. Nearly every element in my work is drawn from my own collections of pressed plants and photos, as it was important to me in thinking about this relationship that the images I used had ties to this area. My hope is that this work encourages people to think about their own relationship with the land.

Most of the participating artists work in traditional media, such as oils, watercolor, pencils and clay, so participating in the exhibit was a first-ever experience for them, as well as the Zullo.

“I am hoping that the public will enjoy the interactive, immersive, and often surprising experiences of this exhibit. It’s so easy for anyone at any age to enjoy walking around Medfield with just their phones, experiencing an art exhibit that celebrates the town’s past with an eye towards the future,” said artist Ann Gorbett, who created multiple AR experiences for the exhibit. “Being a part of this project has opened up so many new ideas about what creating art really means. It can be so much more than just applying paint to a canvas. It has made me realize that one of the most important parts of creating art is the viewer’s emotional involvement with the work.”

The Medfield Foundation Legacy Fund is a professionally managed endowment created to support community-driven projects. Volunteer-run and designed to complement the initiatives of Medfield organizations, the Medfield Foundation Legacy Fund raises private funds for public good.  For more information, visit

Since 1988, the Zullo Gallery has hosted art exhibits, art classes, live music, community events, and private rental space. More information about the gallery and its programming, including the new AR exhibit, is available at

This groundbreaking exhibit is made possible through the efforts of Hoverlay, Inc. and a generous grant from the Medfield Foundation, Inc. Legacy Fund

Medfield Foundation Legacy Fund