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Transformative Public Art Program

We commission several murals and temporary projects every year as part of the Transformative Public Art Program.

The City of Boston launched the third year of the Transformative Public Art program in 2021 as part of the Joy Agenda.

About the program

Year One

In 2019, we released a call to artists for the first round of the program. We were particularly interested in murals and temporary projects with:

  • social practice
  • participatory artmaking, or
  • educational programming that celebrates the diversity of Boston.

We funded seven projects.

Year Two

We released a call to artists for the second round of the program in April 2020. That year, we were looking for artworks that respond to COVID-19 and provide creative approaches to public connections and community rituals at a time of disorientation and insecurity. We supported projects that were ready to be implemented immediately, and also supported the research and development of future projects.

Proposals could include:
  • New media, including web-based projects, online comics, and virtual reality 
  • Traditional media, including murals 
  • Interior installations or performances visible or audible (or both) to passersby or neighbors
  • Community-engaged cultural practices
  • Social practice, including rituals related to joy, grief, and other human experiences
  • Elements that specifically engage youth or reach non-English speaking communities (or both)

Twenty-four projects were selected as part of last year's Transformative Public Art Program. In addition, two murals that were funded through the first year of the program were completed last summer.

Other temporary public art projects

We commissioned five temporary art projects in Grove Hall in 2017. These projects were part of a City-led initiative to improve the streetscape. We wanted to create an environment that is safe, convenient, and comfortable for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. The projects included: 

  • An interactive Affirmation Station by Chanel Thervil. It was designed to uplift people by gifting them with an affirmation pin to serve as a reminder of hope and positivity.
  • A mural entitled "Afro Futurism/ Breathe Life" by Rob "Problak" Gibbs at 324 Blue Hill Ave.
  • A series of banners entitled "On the Shoulders of Giants" by Laurence Pierce at the Grove Hall Branch of the Boston Public Library.
  • A mural entitled "Powerful Knowledge" by David "DonRimx" Sepulveda at 41 Geneva Ave.
  • A mural entitled "Love Thyself" by Victor "Marka27" Quiñonez on Quincy St. 

"Afro Futurism/Breathe Life" by Rob "Problak" Gibbs
"Afro Futurism/Breathe Life" by Rob "Problak" Gibbs, photo courtesy of Chris Gaines

Year Three

For the third year, the program was split into three opportunities: 

Opportunity 1

This was for artists interested in creating murals, who were flexible about location. Artists were selected based on:

  • a written proposal
  • their portfolio, and
  • their interests.

The City then matched artists with a site. Projects include: 

  • Murals at the Engagement Center in Newmarket Square by artist Alex Cook and art collective Mz Icar,
  • Three murals at Boston Housing Authority sites by Mattaya Fitts, Cyrille Conan, and Victor 'Marka27' Quiñonez, and
  • A mural at 158 Stratton St. by Mel Mandel, who worked in partnership with Youth Lead the Change.
Opportunity 2

This was for artists interested in creating murals that are associated with specific themes or communities identified by the City. Projects include:

  • artist Roberto Chao working with the Hyde Square Task Force and community members to create a mural for Boston’s Latin Quarter in Mozart Park in Jamaica Plain,
  • an artist (to be announced) working with the Boston Parks Department and community members to create a mural honoring the legacy of Malcolm X in Malcolm X Park in Roxbury, and
  • artist Rixy, who worked with a consulting team and community members to create a mural proposed by Boston Artist-in-Residence Golden commemorating the life and legacy of Rita Hester in Allston.

The City allocated more than $1 million to murals through Opportunities 1 and 2, and 11 were installed by fall of 2022.

Opportunity 3

This was for artists with a specific, short-term project and location in mind. Projects could include:

  • new media
  • traditional media
  • installations or performances
  • community-engaged cultural practices
  • social practice, or
  • elements that specifically engage youth or non-English speaking communities, or both. 

Twenty-seven projects received grants totaling $323,950 in this category.

Watch the Opportunity Three videos

Transformative Public Art Grantees

Transformative Public Art Grantees
Now projects - $5000
Now Projects - $2500
Now Projects - $1000
Later Projects - $500
Nick Cave with Now + There

Received $20,000 for the multimedia public art project "Augment".

Rob 'Problak' Gibbs 

Received $15,000 to create a mural in Roxbury.

Victor 'Marka27' Quiñonez with Street Theory Gallery 

Received $15,000 to create a mural in Newmarket.

Brian Beyung with the Chinese Historical Society of New England

Received $10,000 to create a mural in Chinatown. 

Samantha Fields

Received $5,000 for the performative project "desires not even our own".

MASARY Studios 

Received $5,000 to create "Water's Edge", a live music and projection piece in East Boston.

Levi Bedall with Pneuhaus 

Received $5,000 to create a sculpture project in the Back Bay.

Mural Projects

'Afro-Latin Dance and Music' by Roberto Chao

We supported artist Roberto Chao with a grant to create a mural at Mozart Park in Jamaica Plain.

'Doujans D’al Hirhoal' by Cyrille Conan

We commissioned Cyrille Conan to create a mural at the Patricia White Apartments in Brighton as part of the Transformative Public Art Program.

Engagement Center Murals by Alex Cook

We commissioned Alex Cook to create a series of four interior murals at the Engagement Center as part of the Transformative Public Art Program.

'The Future of the Past Is Here Now' by Curtis Williams

We commissioned artist Curtis Williams to create an interior mural at the Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library in Brighton.

'The Joy of Growing' by Mattaya Fitts

We commissioned Mattaya Fitts to create an exterior mural at the Peabody/Englewood Apartments in Dorchester.

Malcolm X Park Public Art Projects

We commissioned artists to create murals on three of the basketball courts at Malcolm X Park and a wall of the BCYF Shelburne in Roxbury.

'Rita's Spotlight' by Rixy

The City commissioned artist Rixy to create a mural in Allston honoring the life and legacy of Rita Hester.

'Souledad' by Victor 'Marka27' Quiñonez

We commissioned Victor "Marka27" Quiñonez to create a mural at Washington Manor in the South End.

'Together' by Mz. Icar

We commissioned Mz. Icar to create a mural outside of The Engagement Center in Newmarket Square as part of the Transformative Public Art Program.

'Youth Lead the Change: Rise Up from Your Roots' by Mel Mandel

We commissioned artist Mel Mandel to create an exterior mural at Franklin Field in Dorchester.

Watch: Back to the Essence mural project
Credit: Arts and Culture
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