City dwellers strolling along Newbury Street last Friday, June 21, might have seen markers littering the sidewalk and people passing by, quickly coming to a halt. A paint-by-number canvas hung low over graffiti, splayed next to where J.P. Licks once stood.
The canvas was installed by Ernest English, an artist who hails from New Orleans and founded Emagination Collaboration. Now serving as a fellow at the MIT Community Innovators Lab, the project was his first of, hopefully, many that will spring up and color the city of Boston.
Over the course of eight hours, locals and tourists alike put paint to paper, according to Alexa Mills, MIT CoLab’s program director of media projects and executive editor of CoLab Radio. Some stayed for mere moments, while others remained for hours, filling in the numbered shapes with their corresponding colors.
“The reason we are doing this is to show people the power they have both artistically and socially,” English said in a video shot by Mills.
The banner English hung read “Boston,” and was a way to help the city heal. In an interview, English reminisces on walking down Newbury Street when two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15.
“I have never experienced so many people thinking one thing at the same time,” he said, “or feeling one thing at the same time.”
As someone who comes from New Orleans, English was forced to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. What he saw, however, was the power of people coming together, and he wanted to bring that same unity to Boston in the wake of the tragedy.
To see the mural come to life, watch the video produced by Mills below.