Neighborhood Public Art: Roxbury
Roxbury is home to many murals, sculptures, and statues, all rooted in cultural and political backgrounds that speak to the diversity of the community. No matter what thoroughfare you’re walking down, be it Ruggles Street or Malcolm X Boulevard, you’re bound to discover a colorful piece of public art.
Here, we highlights a few of the most eye-catching works in Roxbury:
“Helion” by Robert Amory
Madison Park Village
Named after Helios, the handsome titan who drove the chariot of the sun across the sky each day and returned it to the east at night, “Helion,” a piece by Gloucester artist Robert Amory, now stands in Roxbury. In 1975, the 26-foot-tall, polyethylene-and-aluminum sculpture was erected in Downtown Crossing on Summer Street, where it stood for 25 years until being moved to its current location. When any one of the 24 bright orange discs catches a blustery gust of wind, it individually spins, and if the gale is strong enough, the whole sculpture rotates.
“Crisscross Signal Spire” by J. Meejin Yoon
This piece of artwork by J. Meejin Yoon is a sculpture by day and a light show by night. Yoon reportedly built upon the city’s historical catchphrase, “One if by land and two if by sea,” by creating her own guidelines for the LED-lit work: “Steady blue, clear view; Flashing blue, clouds due; Steady red, rain ahead; Flashing red, snow instead.” The piece also mirrors Dudley Square’s history as a historic urban crossroads with its curving and crossing stainless steel spires.
“The Judge” by Vusumuzi Maduna
Dudley Square near Civic Plaza
Artist Vusumuzi Maduna, also known as Dennis Didley, synthesizes African and Western forms of artwork to create his own pieces. “The Judge,” a painted steel sculpture, was erected in 1989 and emphasizes geometric and abstract forms to make a bold, bright red-orange and white statement.
Ziegler Street Mural
Sponsored by Madison Park Development Corp
This mural is dedicated to lives lost in the local community and was painted by various youth artists sponsored by the Madison Park Development Corporation. The colorful piece shows two men locked in a friendly handshake, a woman dancing, and various musicians playing instruments.
Ruggles Street Murals
These murals, located a few blocks up from the “Helion” statue, show peace motifs, powerful leaders such as President Obama, sign language for “Roxbury,” and maps of both the United States and Massachusetts. Malcolm X Boulevard gets a shoutout, as well as Boston sports teams, from the Red Sox to the Bruins.
“Inside Out Project” by JR
Dudley Branch of the Boston Public Library
JR, the artist behind the mural that appeared earlier this year on the side of 200 Clarendon, has now pasted his portraits upon the walls of the Dudley Branch of the BPL. More than 60 people are shown, all with the same black-and-white polka dot background—some are holding signs, others are sticking out their tongues, and others are starting straight into the camera.
Create your own walking tour of public art in Roxbury with our map: