Artist Dan Tra­jman says words are too often used to humil­iate and put down rather than to moti­vate and com­fort. The evi­dence, he says, can be found in a politician’s rant or a cyber-​​bullying case.

A few years ago he was inspired to create a visual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the idea that people casu­ally say and write what­ever they want, without con­sid­ering the con­se­quences. The result is “The Power of Word,” an instal­la­tion on dis­play at Northeastern’s Gallery 360 through Oct 15.

“We don’t think before we talk,” says the Boston-​​area artist. “People often say God gave us two ears and one mouth, and we have to use them in that pro­por­tion.”
The two-​​part instal­la­tion is com­prised of the “cause” and “effect.”

The “cause” includes more than 50 clay masks, which Tra­jman says sym­bolize a crowd and remind him of the chorus in a Greek tragedy. Shards of wood spewing from the masks’ mouths rep­re­sent uncon­trolled speech and mesh metal frames behind each mask sym­bolize the idea that people are encaged by their own biases.

The “effect” is dis­played on the wall oppo­site the masks, where photos and info-​​graphics shed light on the impact of neg­a­tive words. On dis­play are sta­tis­tics about youth bul­lying and pic­tures of teenagers and young adults affected by bul­lying, including some who have taken their own lives.

The instal­la­tion also includes a reflec­tion wall for people to share their thoughts on the exhibit, which has been called “insightful,” “emo­tional” and “poignant.”

One person wrote, “There is so much power and meaning behind every word that leaves our mouths.” Others left notes about their per­sonal expe­ri­ences with bul­lying, including one person who penned, “It strikes a chord as someone who was bul­lied in middle school.”

Tra­jman grew up in Israel in a family of artists. His aunt was a painter and his uncle was a sculptor, and his sister is also sculptor.

He moved to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in urban design at Har­vard and spent most of his pro­fes­sional life man­aging soft­ware com­pa­nies in the high-​​tech sector.

Four years ago, he decided to make his part-​​time hobby a full-​​time career.

“I’m not naïve to think this one exhibit will change the world,” Tra­jman says. “But it might affect a few people, and if that hap­pens, I’ve done my job.”