Hannah Verlin
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Thoughts Are Free
Thoughts Are Free is an outdoor installation at 16 sites in Medfield along Route 109 between the Peak House (347 Main St.) and the old section of Vine Lake Cemetery (625 Main St.). This sculpture path is planned to geographically designate Medfield’s new Cultural District and thematically tie to Aaron Lansky’s book Outwitting History, to coincide with the Medfield Library’s “Medfield Reads” program.

The installation features the lines from the poem Thoughts are Free, cut from white paper and attached to telephone poles and one brick wall. The paper words overlay both English and Yiddish. The layering of the text, though still legible, make it unclear where English begins and Yiddish ends, the characters merging together. Over time, as the paper is exposed to the elements, the text will wear away, even as it remains - much like the Yiddish language.

The inspiration for Thoughts Are Free is drawn both from Lansky’s efforts to preserve a fading language described in Outwitting History as well as from the artist’s own experience. In her family Yiddish has gradually disappeared through the generations.

The poem Thoughts are Free is from a collection of documents, which was secretly gathered by members of the Oneg Shabbat Society as testimony to the reality of life under Nazi occupation in the Warsaw Ghetto and beyond. The poetry was found postwar, buried in milk cans. It has since been photographed onto microfiche, and is available online at Poetry In Hell.

Translation by Sarah Traister Moskovitz of Thoughts Are Free

Yiddish Notebook – Smolar
For Third Grade

Thoughts Are Free

My thoughts are free
they cannot be captured!
They just flutter by
like quiet new dawns
for no one can deface them
deny or erase them
You know it’s not new
You know this is true.
I think what I like
What makes me feel pleasure
My thoughts come and go
They’re my quiet treasure.
And no one can know them
Imprison or own them
No one can deny
Di gedanken zint fray.


The Medfield Cultural District is being planned by a volunteer committee of cultural and community leaders to geographically define Medfield’s cultural assets, support local cultural development and collaboration, enhance visitor and resident experiences, and stimulate economic activity. The proposed District runs along Rte. 109 from the Peak House to Vine Lake Cemetery, and extends one block both north and south in the town’s center to include all town properties on the National Register of Historic Properties, approximately 50 businesses, and most religious and government institutions.

Medfield Reads is year-long program (through August, 2012) by the Medfield Public Library to encourage residents to read the book Outwitting History by Massachusetts author Aaron Lansky. The library and partnering organizations have developed related programming to examine themes of inter-generational dialog, language, and cultural inheritance. Medfield Reads is federally funded with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Jean Mineo, Project Manager, is a Medfield resident. Mineo has managed arts organizations in greater Boston since 1994. She has been the Director of Boston Sculptors Gallery, representing 36 New England based sculptors since 2006. In 2010, Mineo coordinated the successful outdoor sculpture exhibition Portals at Vine Lake Cemetery in Medfield. Mineo has also managed seven public art projects in Newton and Boston, managed more than 70 sculpture exhibitions since 2006, and managed large cultural special events involving more than 200 artists at 75 sites (JP Open Studios, 2006 - 2009).

Reference sites:


Thoughts Are Free

Medfield Cultural District

Medfield Reads

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