The AFH teen artists pose with their mural “Facing the Future” on Albany Street. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARTIST FOR HUMANITY
A new mural blossomed on the walls of 527 Albany Street, thanks to a collaboration between Artists for Humanity and Boston Community Pediatrics. AFH’s teenage artists painted a series of bright, bold, masked portraits called “Facing the Future” to portray the pandemic experience and the importance of masking and social detachment in keeping the community safe.
Facing the Future was created in conjunction with National Grid, the City of Boston Department of Youth Engagement & Employment SuccessLink’s Peer 2 Peer Youth Campaign and AFH’s Community Arts Initiative. Photos of AFH teens and staff were used as a reference for the portraits, making the piece particularly personal to the creators.
“We wanted to create something that gave positive vibes in dark times, to show that we are flexible and resilient,” said Jameel Radcliffe, artist and painter’s mentor. While this may be a strange time in history, there is no reason why we cannot be happy. The colors are still bright during a pandemic. “
The mural process worked a little differently than usual for AFH artists, due to the COVID-19 safety standards. Each artist was given a specific task to work on in order to maintain the organization and social distance. The process started with blocking the design in large areas of the wall, then the figures were sketched and finally the details of each face came to life in paint.
These security measures further underscored why the mural was needed, noted teen artist Gloria Fadel El Said.
Boston Community Pediatrics is the state’s first private nonprofit pediatric practice. Supporting the local community is at the heart of its mission. “From the beginning, Boston Community Pediatrics has recognized the importance of representation and ensuring that our patients see themselves reflected in every aspect of our practice, including our art,” said Dr. Robyn Riseberg, founder of Boston Community Pediatrics.
“Our partnership with AFH has given us the opportunity to have our walls (inside and out!) Embellished with beautiful art, created by teenagers from the surrounding community, many of whom come from the same backgrounds as our patients,” she added to. Due to the health organization’s focus on children and young adults, a collaboration with AFH was a natural fit. The same population that is served is allowed to design the artwork that adorns the building.