Relishing the Reliquarium: From humble beginnings, the art community is staying strong

Six years ago, Ivy Ross and Logan Will were uprooted due to Boston’s crackdown on the city’s underground art scene. They found themselves an abandoned mill at 15 Moshassuck Road in Lincoln. The place was in a bit of disrepair, inhabited by squatters and people using drugs. From this, these passionate artists have carved out a flourishing art community with 30 people living on-site creating a business known as The Reliquarium.

According to Ross, in the beginning she and Will did not fully understand the particulars of the art business, let alone how to build a community. “We had to find our own way,” she says. They started with smaller projects such as ornate masks and decorative pieces in a small part of the former mill, as the place grew in space and members. 

Six years later, they have built massive, intricate sets for multiple concerts, including a 75-foot-tall statue and a full dance floor with two DJ booths for Burning Man, a set for the Miami BPM Festival and, currently, a set for the Roll-Up Festival in Northampton, Massachusetts. The Reliquarium can take on projects like this now that the community has grown to over 40 active members with many of the necessary tools such as lasers and finishing machines there. Though a few of its members aid in these projects, stage sets are only the tip of the iceberg of what this community does.

When describing what The Reliquarium is, Ross stated that that “is becoming more and more of a complicated question.” Though some may write off a community of artists as some sort of hippie commune, that couldn’t be further from the truth. These are dedicated, talented craftspeople, and the Reliquarium provides a place and platform as well as guidance for these artists to find success.

Ross and Will have a heavy focus on creating works that they call “relics of our time.” Will grew up in Maine with a father who was an archeologist. While most kids grow up building LEGO sets, he put together bones. Ross has always had an appreciation of nature and its balance with humanity. Together they use their backgrounds in work they call “Relic Works” which they describe as “[combining] design, technology, nature and engineering … creating inspirational works of art for universal audiences.” Relic Works also has outdoor projects that meld both nature and manmade materials together. They repurpose what some would consider waste to create brilliant, elaborate pieces in a process they call “terraforming.” As their website describes it, “an integration of artworks into the natural landscape sourcing materials from the local flora.”

Beyond their personal works, The Reliquarium boasts a plethora of art forms. There are many different studios within the building. Walking through the halls, you will see studios used for welding, glass blowing, jewelry, and painting. In the basement and in the main space you will find laptops in places for graphic design, woodworking, stone carving, wax carving and even a music studio. The studio, Blue Cat Studios, has specialized in producing metal, rap, and EDM. They have a lot of space to work with and also have an isolation booth, which is difficult to find at smaller music studios.

CJ Carr and Zack Zukowski are musicians at The Reliquarium. Their band Dadabots creates music that is entirely AI generated. Both Berklee School of Music grads once featured on VICE, they have trained software to interpret a large number of songs and generate a continuous stream of “original” music. If you visit their YouTube page, they currently have four live videos running, one of which has been running continuously since September of 2019!

On May 15 from 10am – 6pm, The Reliquarium will be hosting a Spring Bazaar to help promote their artists’ work. The artists will be selling or displaying their work while others will be performing music. It will also feature a soft open for The Reliquarium’s on-site shop where prospective customers may purchase work. Ross mentioned that it will be a pleasant change to have the flexibility of not needing to do every major project that comes their way and to get back to a focus on smaller pieces, such as masks and home furnishings.

Even though The Reliquarium is growing at a frenetic pace, its original ideals are still at the core of Ross and Will’s vision. This is not an empire, this is a community where free thought and expression is explored and encouraged. At the end of the day, this space provides guidance to talented artists and is not geared for profit. They will go at whatever pace is needed to ensure the community they envisioned in Boston is the place it always wanted to be.