Watch an Artist Draw a Monumental Mural at the ICA Using Only Sharpies

Ethan Murrow's "Seastead" will remain on view through November 2016.

Ethan Murrow recently spent two weeks drawing a massive mural inside the Institute of Contemporary Art. Bit by bit, he created a photorealistic image—depicting a cathedral situated on top of an airplane carrier, surrounded by water—using only Sharpie pens.

“It’s a slow, slow process of building up many, many marks,” says Murrow in a video (see above) released by the ICA that documents the entire process.

Murrow is a local artist who teaches at the School of Museum of Fine Arts and works out of a studio in the South End. Last year, he was tapped by Facebook to participate in an artist-in-residence program and create one of his signature murals inside the company’s local office in Kendall Square.

The Facebook mural, a permanent installation, reflects on the history of innovation in the Kendall Square area. Similarly, ICA curator Ruth Erickson asked Murrow to consider the museum in the context of its rapidly changing environment for a temporary installation on the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall.

“This is the active space of the museum,” says Murrow about the wall, which is located in the building’s entryway. “We’re in the space where people are first encountering the museum, first trying to make a decision about whether this is good that they came here, what they’re going to find here. That’s a real privilege to be in that space, but there’s also a real advantage to having that first moment where people turn the corner and look and are trying to find something.”

In order to further direct visitors’ eyes to the drawing, Murrow has enclosed it within a circular frame, creating the effect of looking through a lens. The mural, titled “Seastead,” will remain on view at the ICA through November 2016.


Olga Khvan Olga Khvan, Assistant Digital Editor at Boston Magazine olga.v.khvan@gmail.com