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ProBlak debuts Greenway mural ‘Breathe Life Together’

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
ProBlak debuts Greenway mural ‘Breathe Life Together’
ProBlak installs “Breathe Life Together” on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

A new mural has taken shape in Dewey Square on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. “Breathe Life Together” by Rob “ProBlak” Gibbs is the latest installment in the local artist’s “Breathe Life” series that illustrates Black children in moments of joy and empowerment.

“I’m really honored to partner with the Greenway Conservancy as the first Black Boston-based artist on the Dewey Square mural,” says Gibbs. “My vision is to add to Boston’s skyline in a way that elevates the voices and work of those who’ve come before us as well as our future generations. It’s about taking this space to a higher frequency of love and understanding.”

This mural, in particular, has a personal connection for Gibbs. In it, his daughter Bobbi Lauren wears a tracksuit and stands next to an old-school boom box. Lauren looks out into Dewey Square, making direct eye contact with the viewer. The bold mural welcomes visitors into the park and into the city.

“Rob engages with and brings critical conversations of representation, voice and agency to the forefront of Boston’s public realm with his exceptional capacity for storytelling through traditional muralism and contemporary street art,” says Audrey Lopez, director and curator of public art at the Greenway Conservancy.

On June 25, the Greenway will host a block party from 2 to 8 p.m. in celebration of the mural. Co-curated by Chez Vous/Boston Swerve and AfroDesiaCity, the party will feature a pop-up roller rink, live music, art-making and food trucks.

Gibbs began his artistic career while growing up in Roxbury during the hip-hop golden age. His early graffiti work still influences his style. “Breathe Life Together” is painted in aerosol and acrylic paints, primarily in black and white with pops of color in the yellow skyline above Lauren and the green grass below her. Gibbs constructed the mural over the past month with the assistance of local artists Genaro “Go Five” Ortega, Lee “SOEM” Beard and Luis “Take 1” Taforo.

“Graffiti is a tool for me and others in my community to chronicle and immortalize our culture and history,” says Gibbs. “It’s a contemporary form of hieroglyphs, a way to document and pay homage to under-heard people in my community.”

Gibbs is both the first born-and-raised-in-Boston artist to be commissioned for this mural and the first Black man to be commissioned for it. His deep roots in the Boston art scene make “Breathe Life Together” a powerful homage to the city and its people — all of its people.