Kendall Sq. mural by Percy Fortini-Wright fuses environment, industry
A new mural celebrating diversity has emerged at 139 Main St. in Kendall Square. “Charles Gate” by muralist and graffiti artist Percy Fortini-Wright visually connects the tech-centric neighborhood to Greater Cambridge and the Charles River with a particular focus on aquatic ecology.
“My objective was to convey a mural that connects the Charles River to the Kendall and Cambridge neighborhoods,” says Fortini-Wright. “Many people may not realize that the Charles River ecosystem is as diverse as the people who live here in the city itself. I see it as a window, or portal, connecting worlds.”
Commissioned by MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo) and curated by the Boston-based nonprofit Now + There, the temporary mural brings together elements of each neighborhood, an MBTA red line car, a pier, a half sun, black-and-white checked tiles and fish native to the Charles River.
“The fish flying and the birds lower symbolize seeing things from different perspectives,” says Fortini-Wright. “The half sun embodies the rising sun and setting sun. The fish, birds and suns are meant to represent the idea of finding equilibrium within.” This also connects to the search for balance between highly developed tech neighborhoods like Kendall Square and preservation of the area’s natural resources and green spaces.
The MIT building housing the mural is an example of balancing past and present. Built in 1873, the building was restored in 2019 with preservation in mind. Original timber and brick construction from the building were maintained as both conservation of a historic building and an allusion to Cambridge’s industrial history.
Fortini-Wright got his start in the 1990s graffiti scene in Boston and received his BFA and MFA from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. His work utilizes the stylized elements of his graffiti tags along with the traditional painting techniques he’s honed to create a unique mural style. His past projects include work commissioned by Flank Steakhouse in Waltham and by Adidas for the Boston Marathon, a project that was featured in “Hypebeast” and “Sports Illustrated.”
Now + There Curator Leah Triplett Harrington says, “I am thrilled that Percy’s vision for connection between people, places and nature comes to life at 139 Main St. Percy is a legendary artist whose work frequently depicts the convergence of the built environment and nature. With ‘Charles Gate,’ he makes it personal to the Charles River, where he’s spent so much time.”