City program unites students, businesses through
A mural should tell a story, says Heidi Schork, director of the
Boston Mural Crew.
Boston Mural Crew has painted 16 murals in Jamaica Plain.
This one, “Baker’s Delight,” is on
the side of Estrella Bakery, 333 Centre St.
“It’s really the job of the artist to find the inspiration
within the community,” she says.
should know. The Mural Crew, a branch of the city’s
Office of Cultural Affairs, has painted over 100 murals since its
inception in 1991. Of those, 16 are in Jamaica Plain.
“We’re really sort of pan-city,” she
program finds walls to paint on through the Boston Main Streets
program, other city departments, building
organizations, or just by driving around and seeing a blank wall.
Sometimes the artists do a mural just for the sake of doing a mural,
but other times it’s to solve a problem, such as graffiti
or a negative perception of a neighborhood.
“If things look shabby, it changes the vibe a little bit,” Schork
Mural Crew is made up of teens from around the city. In years
past, the program had up to five crews each
summer. The number
of murals completed each summer varies, depending on the weather,
the size of the wall and the scope of the work. Because of budget
cuts, last summer the Mural Crew only had two crews and completed
four murals. This summer, Schork says she expects around 30 youth.
An ongoing after-school program is currently working on 5-by 9-foot
portraits of social justice leaders in Boston history to hang on
the Boston Public Library during this summer’s Democratic
The teens connect with the Mural Crew through area high schools,
siblings, or through their own interest after seeing the murals
around town. They register to work for the city in February and
are asked to submit samples of their artwork. Some have vast portfolios.
Others have one quick drawing.
says she rarely rejects applicants, but some do choose to leave
the program once they find out what’s
involved: rising at the crack of dawn, making a quick sandwich,
T and buses and working five hours in the hot sun. The ones who
stick it out find out that hanging out on scaffolding, listening
to the radio and painting is really fun.
“This is one way that we can get kids the experience of
looking at the whole city and working with kids not just from their
neighborhoods,” Schork says. Once they’re in the program,
she says, many don’t want to leave. “We have a very
difficult time getting rid of kids.”