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Mobile mural marks MPDC 55th anniversary

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Mobile mural marks MPDC 55th anniversary
The mural design PHOTO: COURTESY OF MPDCA.

As part of their 55th anniversary celebration, Madison Park Development Corporation has organized a mobile mural in Nubian Square, created by local artists and a cohort of six youth participants. The mural, “A Love Letter to Roxbury,” celebrates the neighborhood’s history and MPDC’s commitment to the community.

Six youth artists assisted in the creation of the mural. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MPDC

Currently located at 9 Williams Street at the corner of Williams and Washington Streets, the mural uses the colors of the MPDC logo, green, black, red and yellow, as its base. Overlaid on those geometric shapes and colors is the word “Roxbury” in large transparent white letters. The ‘o’ in the word is in the shape of an envelope with a heart seal, underscoring the love letter concept. In the background viewers can spot portraits of MPDC founders such as Ralph Smith and C. Vincent Haynes.

The project began in July with artist and educator James Pierre touring the six student artists around Roxbury and delving into the neighborhood’s historical background. “Three weeks were spent taking a look at art history, looking at the murals that already existed, especially in the Madison Park area,” says Pierre. “We talked a lot about Roxbury’s history.” For student artist Lance Searcy who just moved to Boston from North Carolina, this was a way to get to know the neighborhood and the community.

Students also had the opportunity to meet with community leaders like former Massachusetts representative Byron Rushing and architect David Lee for firsthand accounts of the evolution of the Roxbury neighborhood.

A mock up of the mural design. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MPDC

After establishing the educational base of the project, the students worked with local artists Genaro “GoFive” Ortega and Luis Taforo to design the mural that’s now installed on Williams Street. Working on the tenets of legacy, commitment and vision, the group translated what they’d learned about Roxbury into this mural. “We wanted to make sure that everyone knows we are appreciative of what they do for Roxbury to lead to a better community,” says Searcy. “I feel like there’s not a lot of murals that are really dedicated to the area…that will actually tell that story and say Roxbury is strong in itself.”

In order to spread as much joy in the community as possible, the mural has been made to be mobile. Printed on a durable and removable material, the mural will move around the neighborhood, staying in Nubian Square but writing its love letter to new streets every few months.

“We’ve just been through a year and a half of COVID and we want to help uplift the spirits of everyone in the neighborhood and one of the ways to do that is beautiful public art,” says Kay Matthews, Resource Development Manager at MPDC. “Because we’re still all in this together.”