BOSTON >> Murals celebrating immigrants past and present are cropping up in Boston neighborhoods as part of the city’s take on the national “To Immigrants With Love” campaign.
The murals, which began cropping up this summer, juxtapose real life Boston immigrants from past generations with more recent newcomers.
One mural features a Russian couple who founded a local liquor store empire with a Dominican man who owns an electronic repair store. Another depicts an Italian catering company owner and a Mexican community activist.
The works of art also include a quote translated into Spanish, Italian, Yiddish and other languages: “You will always be welcome in the city of Boston.”
“It’s a very powerful message of welcome,” says Veronica Robles, the recent Mexican immigrant featured in one of the murals. “It makes people feel safe and appreciated. More than ever, that’s an important message to put out there.”
Katherine Copeland, who works in the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement and helped developed the project, says it was inspired by #ToImmigrantsWithLove, a social media campaign started by the nonprofits Define American and I Am An Immigrant to show solidarity with immigrants nationwide.
“That’s what really sparked the idea,” Copeland said. “We wanted to take that message one step further but more specific to Boston.”
The first of three murals were completed this summer by the Mayor’s Mural Crew, a long-running program paying high school students to complete public art throughout the city.
Located on the side of the Atlas Wines and Liquors in the city’s Roslindale neighborhood, the brightly colored mural features Louis and Beatrice White, the Russian couple who founded the company in the 1930s following the repeal of Prohibition.
Pictured next to them is Alex Castillo, a native of the Dominican Republic and owner of Digitech Electronic Solutions, a nearby electronics repair shop.
Across town in East Boston, a second mural located on the side of a dentist office depicts Carmello Scire, an Italian immigrant from the 1930s who founded a long-running catering company now known as Sammy Carlo’s Delicatessen and Catering.
The derby hat-wearing Scire is joined in the mural by a sombrero-wearing Robles, who arrived in Boston in 2000 and founded the Veronica Robles Cultural Center to promote Latin American dance and culture.
The third mural, located under an overpass along East Boston’s bike path, highlights immigrant grandmothers and draws from the photos residents submitted of their own grandmothers.
Heidi Schork, director of the city’s Mural Crew, says the murals are meant to evoke each neighborhood’s evolution.
Roslindale, for example, was once a thriving center of the city’s Jewish population and has become increasingly Latino, she said. And East Boston was once strongly Italian but today is a center of the state’s Central American community.
“We want people to embrace the immigrants of today in the same way they embrace their own ancestors,” said Celina Barrios-Millner, a fellow in the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement. “We just want to make that connection because it’s such an immigrant city.”