When a handful of Everett High students reported to their latest mural project, they didn’t even know they were in Everett.
For all intents and purposes, few Everett residents had put a foot on that part of Everett for generations.
That little sliver is under the Commuter Rail Bridge on Mystic View Road adjacent to the Encore Boston Harbor resort casino. It is under that Bridge where a brand new walking and bike path have been carved out of what was no-man’s land that the students have found a willing campus for their art.
This week, Everett High art students and their teachers are embarking two of the largest – and soon to be most visible – murals yet to be created.
The crew has painted electrical boxes, storm drains and a large mural on the Community Garden, but this latest mural is likely to be seen by not only Everett residents, but also bike commuters and guests of the casino from every corner of the world.
“I didn’t even know this place existed; I thought it was just a swamp,” said junior Gillian Avelar. “I’m glad we’re painting it because it will be beautiful now. It’s going to be so much better. We’re making it into something cool that people can see on their way to the casino. People commuting to work on the path might see this and say, ‘What the heck’ as they go to work. I want all of these people to come through and see what Everett is all about. We’ve been doing things like this a lot more and I like it because people can see our work and know Everett is a place that is changing.”
The two, 26-foot murals sit on the concrete abutments of the Bridge where the new path connects from the Gateway Mall to the exquisite Encore HarborWalk. So far, the mural has overlays of walking paths, swans, cranes, and other environmental pictures interspersed with ideas like ‘Freedom.’
Art Teacher Annette LeRay and Art Department Head Amanda Gill have been spearheading the project, but it has become more of a rite of passage for the students in the Everett High art programs.
“It is starting to be this thing the advanced art students look forward to each year,” said LeRay. “It’s like a rite of passage now to paint a mural. It’s also great for graduating seniors to put on their college applications that they have done a community mural.”
LeRay said it is a challenging mural because it is so large, but it also gives the students a much bigger canvas to relay their ideas of the new Everett – a place not defined by industry, pollution and inaccessibility. Rather, the new mural shows Everett as a place connected to the waterfront and wildlife – not to mention active pursuits like walking and exercise.
“I think the students have put a lot of effort into it,” she said. “This mural is all about rejuvenating the area. The students are very excited about that idea. I’ve even had some seniors show up to work even though they don’t have to be here. My big hope is that so many people from all over the world will get to see the kids’ work every day as they pass through.”
Alevar said she is looking to likely go to art school, and is thinking about Rhode Island School of Design or Monserrat. Beyond that, she said she is excited to return to the mural years from now and see her and her friends’ work on the Bridge.
“I’m glad we’re making Everett more beautiful now, and I’m glad we’re making it a more positive place through art,” she said.