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Big Papi climate change mural installed at Fenway Park

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Big Papi climate change mural installed at Fenway Park
An image of David Ortiz illustrates the effects of climate change in Silvia López Chavez’s new mural at Fenway Park. PHOTO: Celina Colby

Big Papi has loomed large at Fenway Park for decades, but now his image physically marks the historic ballpark in a new mural created by local artist Silvia López Chavez. The pop-up installation tying Fenway to the climate change crisis is part of the public art series “Visioning the Future” by Action Pact Boston.

In the mural, David Ortiz’s image is directly applied on the side of Fenway Park, celebrating the ball player’s legacy and conveniently aligning with his recent induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. But on closer inspection, viewers will notice that Ortiz’s legs are submerged in a bright blue ocean. Next to the figure, a discreet factoid notes that by the year 2070, the sea level is expected to rise two feet, making a home run a difficult task.

The mural itself is created to have no environmental impact and to wear away naturally. López Chavez says, “I was using wheat paste for the image of Big Papi, as well as some chalk and powder pigments that I mixed with water and other things so they’re all very much environmentally friendly materials for this piece.”

For López Chavez, the choice to use Big Papi as the center of the mural was an easy one both strategically and personally. With Ortiz a fan favorite, a mural containing the player will surely garner attention, but López Chavez also feels a kinship with Ortiz, as they share roots in the Dominican Republic. Using Ortiz honors the Red Sox and Latinx achievement in one swoop of the paintbrush.

The mural was installed over the course of two days in late July by López Chavez, her team and the Experience Alchemists, who are facilitating the mural projects on behalf of Action Pact. Other murals for the series have been placed at the Franklin Park Zoo, the Boston Children’s Museum and Boston Medical Center, among others, but Chavez’s Fenway mural may get the most foot traffic, or at least the most snaps on Instagram.

Amy Longsworth, director of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, hopes making climate change data and urgency more accessible will prompt thought and action from the mural viewers.

“It can touch emotions in a way that dry data is never going to do,” says Longsworth. “If you love Fenway, you love baseball, you love Big Papi, you’re going to now have feelings about ‘Oh, it’s effecting my home and a passion I have.’”

López Chavez says she has had many dialogues with people already while installing the mural and witnessed the power of the subject matter to draw viewers in. One construction worker who chatted with Chavez went from disregarding the mural as “too political” to engaging in the climate change dialogue over the course of the installation.

Next to the mural is a QR code that leads to the Action Pact Boston website and a list of easy actions every person can take to combat climate change. “We all can contribute to making change happen,” says López Chavez. “To reverse the direction we’re going into so we can have a better future, a brighter future, for ourselves, for our children and the generations to come.”

arts, Big Papi, climate change, David Ortiz, visual arts