"You Are Loved" mural by Alex Cook, located in the main room of the Engagement Center
The City of Boston commissioned Alex Cook to create this mural series as part of the third round of the Transformative Public Art Program. The Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture allocated more than $1 million toward murals at 10 sites across nine neighborhoods as part of the program. The total budget for this project was $75,000. The murals are located inside the Engagement Center in Newmarket Square. On this project, Alex collaborated with the:
The Engagement Center opened in August 2017 and moved into a new building at 26 Atkinson Street in December 2021. It's a welcoming, low-threshold daytime space for individuals navigating homelessness and substance use to:
- access resources
- engage in recovery, behavioral health, and homeless services, and
- receive nursing care and medical support.
Participants receive daily nursing care, including medication management, from Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. They can also receive medical care, connect with a behavioral health provider, and start substance use disorder treatment.
Four murals make up this series:
"Tree of Life" is sited in the entrance hall of the building. It measures 7 feet wide by 9 feet high. A simple, life-affirming tree of life image greets all who enter through the front door. The tree is set in a dawn landscape with quiet starry sky above. It calls to mind new beginnings and a sense of calm much larger than the drama of any individual human story.
- "You Are Loved", located in the main room, has that sentence reduced to the letters’ simplest shapes while retaining legibility. A broad color spectrum is analogous to the broad array of life experiences lived by all using the space. Divisions of space and simple dash patterns infuse the whole design with movement.
- "Tree with Network of Stars" is in the special programs room. It depicts a tree similar to the first mural illuminated in a night landscape. The stars are linked to one another. They call to mind the connection of human lives within the vast universe.
- The staff break room has "Thank You Heroes", which serves as a “secret” message to the staff of the Engagement Center. It was conceived as a rejuvenating message for the staff. This work reminds them that they are seen, appreciated, and recognized for the difficult work they are doing.