Photo Credit: Creative Collective Creative North Shore
Beyond Walls Mural Festival
Since 2017, Beyond Walls has hosted the Beyond Walls Mural Festival, a two-week long festival that brings renowned artists from all over the world to install large-scale murals in and around Lynn, Massachusetts.
Located just north of Boston on the Atlantic Ocean, Lynn, was once a thriving manufacturing center. It was dubbed the “shoe-making capital of the world” in 1885, but as production began to decline and eventually moved elsewhere, Lynn, like many cities, was left with large industrial buildings and the need for new economic opportunities. The Mural Festival is one way the residents in Lynn are responding to that need.
Beyond Walls is a creative placemaking nonprofit that works to activate spaces to strengthen communities. They work in a variety of mediums and take a creative lens to address community shared challenges in the built environment. The organization’s work centers around partnering with artists to create public art that reflects the cultural identities of the communities they serve. Beyond Walls' aim has been to increase foot traffic in downtown Lynn, improve public safety and redefine the city’s cultural identity.
The Mural Festivals are now one of Beyond Walls’ flagship programs. Some of the artists who have participated include:
- Sam Worthington from the United Kingdom painted Jan Ernst Matzeliger, the son of a Dutch engineer and a Surinamese black woman, who invented a machine that shaped shoes.
- Damaris Cruz, who graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, painted a four-story building with yellow paint and pieces of ripped paper from Yellow Pages books.
- Artists Yu-Baba and Key Detail, who are originally from Belarus, painted two portraits of beautiful mermaids under the water.
Beyond Walls worked with the local business community to allow the installations of the murals on downtown buildings. Through their outreach efforts, they have gained the trust of their community and city government for their creative placemaking work. In the Mural Festival’s first year it engaged 20 artists to complete 15 large-scale murals and attracted more than 5,000 visitors and 4.5 million social media impressions. Since that first festival in 2017, the Murals Festival has generated widespread interest and become a source of local pride.
Property Type: Commercial Structure
Project Type/ New Use: Art - Large Scale (e.g. Sculpture; mural)
Project Purpose: Improve walkability; Improve safety; Revitalize Downtown
Initial Cost: Over $250,000
Funding Source: Philanthropic; In kind services
Organization Type: Nonprofit - Arts and culture
Implementation Partners: Artist(s); Trade Groups; Local businesses
Community Type: Urban
Project Website: Beyond Walls >
Social: Facebook >
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