Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans: The Power of Public Art in Boston
October 2, 2020

Featured image: “Protect What You Love” by IMAGINE

From September 1st to September 21st, talented ARTivists from across the Boston area came together to paint large-scale murals in East Boston as part of the Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans public art program. Their purpose? To give creative voice to the local coastal communities most impacted by critical environmental issues such as storm surge and flooding caused by sea level rise.

The festival was presented by our Founder and President Linda Cabot in collaboration with long-time Bow Seat partner the PangeaSeed Foundation and HarborArts.

Rising to the challenges presented by the pandemic and determined to bring light and happiness to the community, area artists painted six breathtaking murals. Four of them are located in the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina and two on the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway.

Participating local ARTivists included Silvia López Chavez, Julia “JULZ” Roth, Cedric “Vise1” Douglas, Josie Morway, IMAGINE and Sophy Tuttle, all of whom offered their own unique perspectives on the pressing issues affecting our oceans.

Josie Morway’s “Fight the Rise,” Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina.

Nooa Rimmi Douglas posing in front of Cedric “Vise1” Douglas and Julia “JULZ” Roth’s mural, Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina. Photo from @julzroth.


Sophy Tuttle standing in front of her mural, Mary Ellen Welch Greenway.

Silvia López Chavez by her mural “Rise,” Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina. Photo © Dominic Chavez.

Linda also commissioned long time Bow Seat partner Artists For Humanity (AFH) to paint a mural as part of this activation. The students at Artists For Humanity sat down together and brainstormed a design that would include the Boston skyline with iconic marine species floating through it, like the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. As AFH Co-Founder and Director of Special Projects Jason Talbot aptly said, “The young people are uniquely invested in the environment, for they will inherit it.”

“Hope and Resistance” by AFH, Mary Ellen Welch Greenway.

Standing as powerful examples of ARTivism, these first public artworks are creating excitement for the larger activation of Sea Walls Boston planned for July of 2021.

Sea Walls ARTivists’ work piqued the interest of WCBV Channel 5:

“This September’s Sea Walls ARTivists perfectly illustrated the kind of impact you can have on your community and the important conversations you can spark as an artist.”

“The pieces they’ve created have raised awareness not only about sea level rise, but about environmental justice as well and will serve as a source of incredible inspiration for our students as we kick off our 10th Ocean Awareness Contest.”

Sea Walls culminated in a “Climate Justice Through Science and ARTivism” panel discussion on September 24th. Scientists, thought-leaders and creatives across disciplines all came together to discuss the issue of sea level rise in Boston and how art and creative expression can help bring this issue to light.

Panel moderator Kannan Thiruvengadam, Director of Eastie Farm, and panelists including AFH Co-Founder and Director of Special Projects Jason Talbot, local ARTivist and Sea Walls participant Silvia López Chavez, UMass Boston Professor of Hydrology Dr. Ellen Douglas, Chief Scientist at the New England Aquarium Dr. John Mandelman, GreenRoots Waterfront Initiative Coordinator John Walkey, PangeaSeed Foundation Director of Operations Akira Biondo, PangeaSeed Foundation Project Director Matthew Pollock, and our very own Founder and President Linda Cabot as the Presenter of Sea Walls.

The key takeaway? Creative communication is becoming an important environmental advocacy tool to teach people the science behind climate change. Art has the incredible power to reach and engage broad audiences, to deeply impact people and to affect change as a result. We couldn’t agree more!

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Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans: The Power of Public Art in Boston

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