Have you met Lena McCarthy, the artist behind the fourth installment in the #CSQinColor Mural Project? Her colorful mural can be found in the parking lot behind Pandemonium Books and Games. Learn more about Lena and the meaning behind her Central Square mural!

“My mother was an artist, so I grew up with a box of crayons and all the art supplies you can think of. I’ve been making things my whole life and eventually decided to attend Boston University to study painting. I started to dabble with public art during college, but not with a lot of confidence. I was asked to design something for a school once, which did give me a taste of what it’s like to paint a bigger and more collaborative piece.

What really got me interested in making my own designs on larger walls was when I lived in South America. After college, I worked for a little bit before moving to Chile to teach English in a school. I thought I’d only stay for one school year, but ended up staying for two years. The street art in Chile is unbelievable and so inspiring. That was when I realized I needed to start doing it. I started working in public art over there and continued once I came back here. Public art really found me.

When the opportunity came about to paint this particular mural, I knew I wanted to do something that was special for this moment in time. A lot of my work is connected to femininity, what it means to me, and what it means to be a women right now. When coming up with the idea for the mural, I started thinking about how this was the year of #MeToo. The inspiration behind the mural was to really show what feminine power would look like. I didn’t want to just do a political piece, but that’s kind of where we’re at right now. A lot of people are thinking about femininity and it’s a good moment to highlight it because people are open to discussing it, especially the people in Cambridge, who are very informed.

When people look at my mural, I hope they are instantly struck by it. I always want my art to be visually striking, which is why I use all the colors and craziness. For the Central Square Mural Project as a whole, I hope people see the different artists doing their own expression and better understand that murals can be just a piece of art. Public art doesn’t have to be watered down, it doesn’t have to be bite sized for people to understand. We can have expressive, huge art that’s created for everyone.

I also hope this Project makes people realize that it’s okay if they don’t like one of the murals. I’ve had people walk by (okay, maybe only one or two) and say they don’t like mine, but that’s fine! I personally think that’s the beauty of having multiple murals within one project. When you only have one mural, everyone has this big opinion on whether they like it or don’t, or specific parts they wish weren’t in it. Having multiple murals in Central Square creates a place for people in Cambridge to compare and contrast which murals they like, which will ultimate lead to more discussions about art.

I’m just so grateful to have had this opportunity. I’m the youngest artist commissioned for the Mural Project, so it’s a big honor. I turned 26 while I was painting my mural, yet some of the other artists have been doing this for 20 years! I’m glad they picked a variety of artists and I’m humbled that Central Square was open to having my younger voice be a part of it.”

— Lena McCarthy

Follow Lena on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lenamccarthyart/

Learn more about Lena’s work: http://www.lenamccarthyart.com/