About the Show
“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
Murals have long been considered the art of the people: a testimony of the community, displayed freely for the world to see without hesitation or apology.
Once relegated to the sidelines of the art world, murals, now broadly consisting of street art, have developed into a unique art form remixing the traditions of fine art with the flair and swagger of graffiti. Perhaps this recent juxtaposition of styles can be traced to the Philadelphia Mural Arts program in 1984, where Jane Golden, working for the city antigraffiti commission to curb unwanted graffiti, convinced the city to to create a space that graffiti artists could call their own and be celebrated (leading to Philadelphia becoming the “City of Murals”). This radical initiative gave way to the vibrant street art scenes and cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New York where the cities are galleries and buildings the canvases.
The Massachusetts street art scene didn’t really develop until the 2010s. In 2016 a Mass Development study asked residents of Lynn, Massachusetts which safety improvements they wished to see in the city: Public art and adequate lighting topped the list. From these needs, motivated members of the Lynn community rose up and formed Beyond Walls which has used art and design to strengthen the community of Lynn: whether they be better lighting in area of high vehicle-pedestrian accidents, outdoor dining barriers, or hand washing stations. Through their work they have brought new business to the city of Lynn, a renewed sense of self, and perhaps most importantly a celebration of the many cultures and voices that reflect Lynn.
The first Beyond Walls street art festival was in 2017, bringing in artists from around the world. An Impact study by Webb Management Services commissioned by Beyond Walls and MassDevelopment showed that the 10-day international mural festival was attended by more than 5,000 Lynn residents and visitors, who in turn spent more than $108,000, mostly in local restaurants and bars. This large-scale event garnered more than 75 pieces of positive press and 4.5 million social media impressions, accounting for an estimated $407,749 in media coverage, i.e., for an ad campaign to reach the same size audience would require a company to spend $407,749. Additionally, a survey showed additional spin-off benefits, for instance, attendees stated they would shop and eat downtown more frequently. Most importantly, it renewed and strengthened a sense of community.
In the fall of 2020, arts organization Beyond Walls presented Truth Be Told. This socially distanced street art festival centered on youth voices and featured large-scale murals and digital artwork around downtown Lynn. The artwork featured was born of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond Walls worked with local youth to explore their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises currently facing their community. Photography, visual arts, dance, writing, and multimedia art served as tools for this work. They also commissioned murals by artists from across the country. The resulting artwork explores the idiosyncrasies of the times. It also holds up a mirror to the uncertainties we face. Beyond Walls is using these installations to energize the community with creative wellness in the streets.
The Heart + Soul installation is a retrospective of some of the many murals and pieces of art created by artists in collaboration with Beyond Walls. Heart + Soul is a collection of photographs and digital art examining the interplay between community and art. The diverse subject matter gives a presence and weight reflective of the diverse population of the community where it resides. As the art celebrates the community, Heart + Soul aims to create a space that not only reflects the vibrant diversity of the staff and patient community, but celebrates them.
We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment. Tell us what your favorite piece is or let us know what this art means to you.
Support La Colaborativa
La Colaborativa is a community organization based in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The organization is dedicated to empowering Latinx immigrants. Members of Colaborativa are working to enhance the social and economic health of the people who make up the region’s Latinx community. They also strive to hold institutional decision-makers accountable to the community.
We know too well that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been even across communities. In the Chelsea immigrant community, 80% of workers are essential employees who cannot work from home. As a result, this community has been particularly hard hit during the pandemic. La Colaborativa is working to help this community survive. Their efforts include food distribution, preventing housing displacement, and expanding access to testing and vaccination.
MGH Chelsea Healthcare Center
MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center is a community health center at Massachusetts General Hospital. The center provides high quality care to patients in Chelsea and neighboring communities. We strive to promote access to health care for all. We do this by minimizing barriers, such as language, ethnicity or ability to pay.
The center is engaged in community-based programs that help enhance the public health of area residents.
Learn more about our work:
Questions and Answers about the COVID Vaccine
Preguntas y respuestas sobre la vacuna COVID con el Dr. Gomez
Coming to the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center
Viniendo al Centro de Salud de MGH Chelsea