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Malcolm X Park Public Art Projects

Multiple Artists

We commissioned artists to create murals on three of the basketball courts at Malcolm X Park and the adjacent wall of BCYF Shelburne in Roxbury.

Keep playing! The artists are looking forward to beginning painting in Spring 2024. Read below to learn more about this exciting project & check this page for more updates.

A blacktop basketball court at Malcolm X Park in Roxbury
This public art project will be installed at the basketball courts in Malcolm X Park.

 

About the Artists

Rob “Problak” Gibbs headshot

Rob “Problak” Gibbs 

Rob “ProBlak” Gibbs is a visual artist and organizer who has transformed the cultural landscape of Boston through graffiti art since 1991. 

Growing up in Roxbury during the Hip-Hop Golden Age, ProBlak saw the power of graffiti as a form of self expression. Graffiti became a tool for him, and others in his community, to chronicle and immortalize their culture and history. For ProBlak, graffiti acts as a contemporary form of hieroglyphs, a way to document and pay homage to underserved, underhead communities in the city. His vision- to beautify the predominantly black and brown communities of Boston- is a driving force behind his artistic practice. 

For Basketball Court #1, ProBlak will lead a diverse team of local artists from Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, working collaboratively to bring vibrancy to the court.

Sydney G. James headshot

Sydney G. James 

Fine arts painter and muralist Sydney G. James is proudly a girl raised in, and by, Detroit. Her name is synonymous with colors and brushwork as strikingly defiant, and ever changing, as the city itself. Since returning to her hometown in 2011, Sydney has personified artist in flow, quickly building upon her creative roots as a BFA graduate of Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Her murals have transformed Detroit’s skyline and its arts narrative, and helped her earn a coveted 2017 Kresge Arts in Detroit Fellowship. But it is Sydney’s artworks – on walls, on canvas, on fabric, on Vans shoes; on whatever she damned well chooses – that give her name and her life a fierce focus. She is a painter on a pointed mission to let each brush stroke spark conversations long silenced. In paintings and murals, Black women are first. Never last and never forgotten. Her works boldly rewrite the narrative in hues evoking the complexities of Black reality, joy and pain, and phoenix-like resilience.

For Basketball Court #2, Sydney leads a team of 5 femme and non-gender conforming artists: BakPak Durden, Nadd the Nomad, Flowrbomb, Sagie, and Rinna, hailing from Detroit, Roxbury, and the Greater Boston area. Together, they aim to craft a mural that encapsulates the shared bond between Detroit and Roxbury, paying tribute to the life of Malcolm X.

Otra Ciudad headshot

Otra Ciudad (with Nomada Urbano)

As a visionary architect, Otra Ciudad has participated in a diverse range of projects, from community parks to expansive international airport terminals. No matter the size, the human scale remains a steadfast focus. In every endeavor, understanding the interplay between spatial configuration and social behavior is fundamental. The ultimate aim is to create spaces that resonate with human vitality.

Otra Ciudad's grounding in this philosophy did not stem from traditional architectural academia. Instead, it blossomed on the streets, with murals painted as a tactile response to urban decay, aiming to revitalize spaces for the community.

For Basketball Court #3, Otra Ciudad is joining forces with Nomada Estudio, an esteemed urban design studio based in Mexico. With a wealth of experience painting basketball courts and pavement murals worldwide, they aim to develop a mural that captures the rich diversity of Roxbury.

Geo "GoFive" Ortega (BCYF Shelburne wall)

For over eight years,  GoFive has provided the public of Boston with access to creative and inventive installations of public art. Through the medium of aerosol, and drawing on the rich mural and graffiti traditions associated with inner ­city Boston, he has worked to create a body of art that attracts diverse groups of people, all while paying homage to the unique qualities of the communities in which he works. He believes that by painting a mural within the community that he originated from will provide an experience that is not only rich artistically but also personally. One that will result in a permanent artistic resource for the community.

Project Context

The City of Boston commissioned these four murals as part of the third round of the Transformative Public Art Program. The Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture allocated more than $1 million toward murals at 10 sites across nine neighborhoods as part of the program. The total budget for these projects is $525,000. 

Malcolm X Park is currently undergoing an $8.8 million renovation project by the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation. This project is the City’s first equitable procurement project and has included many community meetings. At these community meetings, repeated requests were made to include public art in the project. In collaboration with the Parks Department and a Roxbury community working group, we were able to identify four locations for public art at this site:

  • three of the new basketball courts in the park
  • vertical mural on the rear facade of the BCYF Shelburne community center.

The City released a Call for Artists for the three long-term basketball court murals in March of 2022, seeking artists and/or artist teams that would capture the essence of the Roxbury neighborhood, its lively community, Malcolm X Park, and the legacy of its namesake.

The Site

Built in 1867, Malcolm X Park is one of the most expansive & programmed recreational parks. Spread over 10 acres, the sprawling green offers access to a playground, tennis and basketball courts, and a swimming pool and ice skating arena.

 

 

Commissioning Process

The City released a Call for Artists for the three long-term basketball court murals in March of 2022, seeking artists and/or artist teams that would capture the essence of the Roxbury neighborhood, its lively community, Malcolm X Park, and the legacy of its namesake. 

Several artists were invited to interview with an Artist Selection Committee. The Committee was comprised of:

  • Malcolm X Park Public Art Working Group, which was comprised of community leaders & liaisons, park users, local artists representing the interests of the neighborhood
  • Representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture
  • Team members from the Parks & Recreation Department
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