Cambridge, MA, Aug. 26, 2019 – Cambridge’s Central Square Branch Library will soon be home to a dazzling new mural celebrating the ways libraries serve communities. Boston-based artist Silvia López Chavez was commissioned by the Central Square Business Association/Business Improvement District (BID) in partnership with the Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge Arts, and the city’s Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department to begin painting last week.
Chavez’s design features books, flying birds, and pages turning into paper planes, all set against a backdrop of bold stripes of color. The 240-foot-long and 20-foot-tall mural will span the length of Pearl Street, between Green Street and Franklin Street in Cambridge, and turn onto part of Franklin Street. Work on the project is expected to continue through early September.
The library painting is part of the Central MURALS program, a collaboration between the Central Square Business Association, the Central Square BID, Central Square Cultural District and Cambridge Arts, to create new murals in high-profile locations along the Massachusetts Avenue Corridor. The program was inspired by the 10th anniversary of Central Square’s Graffiti Alley, a legal graffiti wall along Modica Way that has attracted artists from Cambridge, the region, and from around the world. The murals are also a way to showcase and celebrate the rich character, history, and culture of Central Square, which received another five-year designation as a Cultural District from the State of Massachusetts last year and was designated a Business Improvement District (BID).
Over the past year, Central MURALS has commissioned wall paintings from local artists, including by Marka27 (Victor Quiñonez) and Percy Fortini-Wright along Massachusetts Avenue, by Imagine (Sneha Shrestha) on Sidney Street at Massachusetts Avenue, by Lena McCarthy at Green Street at Pleasant Street, by Felipe Ortiz on Norfolk Street at Massachusetts Avenue, and by Vise and Julz (Cedric Douglas and Julia Roth) on the Green Street Garage.
Chavez’s mural will be a culminating artwork at the library and Green Street Garage complex, joining the mural by Vise and Julz on Green Street and sculptures and a video projection by John Powell on Franklin Street and along the Cambridge Housing Authority’s abutting Frank J. Manning Apartments.
Part of the Pearl Street wall had been home to Daniel Galvez’s 1986 mural “Crossroads,” celebrating the diversity and cultural vibrancy of Central Square. The mural was restored twice. But after continued severe wear from the elements, it was deaccessioned and removed in consultation with the artist and a public process involving the Cambridge Public Art Commission. A new plaque remembering Galvez’s artwork will be added to the building.
Silvia López Chavez recently finished murals for Northeastern University at the Ruggles MTBA station and the Underground at Ink Block highway underpass in Boston’s South End. She’s also painted murals along the Charles River Esplanade and at Salem’s Punto Urban Art Museum.
Chavez’s art is informed by her belief in the importance of making and celebrating connections on a social, political, and cultural level – connections which occur in spaces like public libraries. Her work explores the emotional narratives of joy, struggle, acceptance, and assimilation as vehicles for empowerment, growth and transformation. Chavez’s murals are renowned for their experimentation with color and form, and for their reliance on traditional methods of drawing and painting.