Within the past year, murals started to appear throughout the country, in a sign of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. As a community committed to social justice and human rights, a group of over 500 volunteers helped to create a street mural along Worcester’s Major Taylor Boulevard. This all-inclusive street mural, completed by 18 local artists with the support of the City administration and other local organizations, is reflective of the great work that happens when a community comes together for a common cause.
Sharinna Travieso is one of the artists behind Worcester’s BLM murals. In 2016, the first mural she worked on was “Maiden Mother Crone” on the YWCA’s wall in Downtown Worcester where she assisted artist Alice Mizrachi. Travieso is a Worcester native who has witnessed first hand all the changes the city has experienced in recent years. When we spoke with her, she said she’s proud to see her art represented in Downtown Worcester.
“It was nice to be able to use my art as my voice. I think seeing it as an art form is more impactful. Art is more powerful than using your voice. People can see it and take what they want from it. It leaves a longer-lasting impression on people.”
– Sharinna Travieso
Worcester is a cultural destination. The city is proud to offer a variety of cultural attractions, from theater and dining to local art and outdoor exhibits. One of the most recent artistic additions has been the Black Lives Matter mural.
This week we’re highlighting one of the talented artists who lent her skill to this powerful mural: Sharinna Travieso.
Sharinna has been an artist since 2016. She grew up in Worcester and says that “seeing the changes in the city has been pretty crazy.”
Before she started painting murals, Sharinna attended an art-focused elementary school, where she learned through art and dance. During college, Sharinna began drawing and painting. In 2016, the first mural she worked on was “Maiden Mother Crone” on the YWCA’s wall in Downtown Worcester where she assisted artist Alice Mizrachi. She says her art gives her a way to express herself, and that “it’s good to be a part of the movement.”
During her third year of college, Sharinna realized that although she was learning, she wasn’t doing what she loved to do. She dropped out to focus on her art. As the Black Lives Matter protests flared around the country, Sharinna received a call from a friend who asked her if she wanted to get involved in creating the mural for Downtown Worcester. Her answer was a resounding yes.
Of painting the mural, Sharinna says she started with a sketch of her letter (the first ‘L’ in black) and had a chance to visualize her contribution on paper first. Uniquely, the artists did not collaborate on the appearance of the letters beforehand. Instead, each artist created their unique vision and later compiled them into the finished product.
Here’s what Sharinna has to say about her contribution to the mural and its impact on the Worcester community:
“My letter depicts a girl at the bottom. She has dark skin. I wanted to represent the females. I felt it was important for girls to see themselves in the mural. In my letter, off to the side, it has different-colored hands holding up signs. A few days after the mural was finished, I remember seeing a picture of a little boy drawing something on the ground in chalk. It was a part of my letter. It showed the impact the mural had on the community. It was nice.”
Before her Worcester murals, Sharinna says she’s had no experience with street art, and that the experiences have been fun because she’s so used to painting static surfaces.
Of being part of the BLM mural, Sharinna says:
“It was nice to be able to use my art as my voice. I think seeing it as an art form is more impactful. Art is more powerful than using your voice. People can see it and take what they want from it. It leaves a longer-lasting impression on people….Being a part of that outreach created a sense of community. Before COVID, we went to art shows and I loved getting together with people and doing art. Aside from the activism part, it was nice to get together.”
In addition to demonstrating Downtown Worcester’s commitment to social justice and inclusivity, the BLM mural also provided an important coming-together for artists and community members amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Sharinna’s words:
“I didn’t realize that people missed community art that much. Everyone just came back out and worked together.”
Worcester’s artistic heritage runs deep, and the BLM mural is just one more display of the talented artists who live in the city. On future art in Worcester, Sharinna says:
“I would push to put more art in the Main South area and the Lincoln Area. I feel like incorporating some art into those lower-income places incorporates them into the community.”
The mural was painted on July 15, 2020 on Major Taylor Boulevard next to the DCU Center.