If you have been around the Ink Block neighborhood recently, chances are you have begun to notice the transformation along Traveler Street that connects the South End to South Boston. While some might see a concrete jungle, National Development, the developer behind Ink Block, saw a blank canvas. In partnership with Reebok, National Development has brought together some influential street artists to help transform more than 150,000 square feet of concrete into murals along the underpass as part of a project to develop the city’s newest urban park and help bridge the two neighborhoods. Underground at Ink Block will be unveiled to the public at the Underground GetDown block party on Saturday, Sept. 9. We chatted with the artists ahead of the park’s opening on their style, vision and inspiration for bringing art to the streets.

Victor “Marka27” Quiñonez

In a few words, how would you describe your style? My style comes from street culture. I coined the terms “Neo Indigenous” and “Retro Native” to better describe my style. I’m originally from Mexico and grew up with Mexican culture, Transformers, Mighty Mouse, Graffiti and Yo MTV Raps, imagine that plus the politics of being an immigrant in the U.S becoming part of my artists DNA.

There’s something powerful about public murals and street art. What draws or inspires you to do this work? I create public art to inspire and empower anyone who is searching to express themselves artistically.

What are you most excited about with this project in particular? I’m excited for Boston! My partner Liza Quiñonez, co-founder of Street Theory, KP Strategies and National Development have been working on this project for a while now and it’s bigger than us. We hope to continue curating more local and international artists in the near future. This is just the beginning, and it’s time for Boston artists to have a cultural hub where they can truly express themselves.

Does Boston have any special connection for you? Will this be your first mural for the city? I have a lot of history in this city. I graduated from SMFA in 2003 and have lived in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury and Cambridge. I would say close friends and strong relationships I’ve made in Boston have the most special meaning. I have met some truly talented, passionate and genuine Bostonians that are hungry for a more progressive creative cultural scene. Bodega, Boston City Lights, Ink Block, Myers and Chang and many others have shown so much love and support throughout the years.

When someone walks or rides past the completed Underground Mural Project, what do you hope they’ll say or do? I hope it brings pride more than anything. I hope people brag about how amazing Boston is and can be. I also hope it encourages other organizations and institutions to support street art and other forms of public art in the city of Boston.

Any hints of what you’ll be creating? I will be collaborating with two amazing talents: Problak, born and raised in Boston who has a unique urban contemporary style, and renowned artist Don Rimx from Puerto Rico. The three of us painted a mural in Jamaica Plain on Beauty Master Salon, and if you like that mural this will be bigger and better!

Cey Adams

In a few words, how would you describe your style? My work is rooted in graphic design. My murals are usually centered around a typography treatment. Letterforms are a central part of building my visual message. I like clean lines and sharp edges. Working with a combination of latex paint and spray paint, provides me the freedom and flexibility to do whatever is needed for any job.

There’s something powerful about public murals and street art. What draws or inspires you to do this work? My mural work is a warm connection to my early days painting as a teenage graffiti artist. Painting outdoors is a perfect way to connect with the public. My goal as an artist is to spread the universal message of peace and love. The murals I paint always have a musical theme or connection to each town or city. (I love talking to the locals while I’m working, it builds a strong personal connection.)

Does Boston have any special connection for you? It’s a huge honor to paint in Boston. As a born and bred New Yorker, we share a connection through our love of sports. Our rich history and rivalry is unparalleled. That said, my art is about bringing people together. It’s that simple!

Hoxxoh

In a few words, how would you describe your style? Technique and process driven, reactionary.

What draws or inspires you to do this work? I really enjoy creating public murals because they are for all walks of life within the community they reside in.

What are you most excited about with this project in particular? To be painting in the awesome city of Boston.

Does Boston have any special connection for you? Will this be your first mural for the city?  This will be my first time painting in Boston, and I’m looking forward to making connections to this great city.

When someone walks or rides past the completed Underground Mural Project, what do you hope they’ll say or do? I hope they have a reaction… any reaction is great.

Don Rimx

In a few words, how would you describe your style? My style is an arrangement of symbols, personalities and contrasts of fundamental textures found in our cities. The diverse lifestyles and cultural elements help guide the concepts with which I work. I then mix that up with a vibrant color palette reminiscent of my Caribbean roots.

There’s something powerful about public murals and street art. What draws or inspires you to do this work? Public art is very powerful and important. Created in the streets, throughout the city, where every citizen, no matter social status, has access to this art form. It’s grand, speaks out loud, is an exchange of ideas, a conversation that we can all be part of in some way. It lives among us and over time helps us to observe, think, understand, question and react apart from the coexistence and relationships between us all.

What are you most excited about with this project in particular? The interaction with the residents of the area.

Percy Fortini-Wright

In a few words, how would you describe your style? My art visually collides perceived opposites, balancing fine-art techniques with graffiti vernacular.

What draws or inspires you to do this work? The idea of taking back the public space appeals to me and leaving my mark is the root of graffiti. Many times I think of it as a large-scale painting.

What are you most excited about with this project in particular? Working with this esteemed group artists will be fun, also I enjoy having my work seen in a public space.

Does Boston have any special connection for you? Will this be your first mural for the city? Not my first mural in the Boston area. It’s my home city, and I continue to watch the growth of the art scene.

When someone walks or rides past the completed Underground Mural Project, what do you hope they’ll say or do? That’s dope, fresh.

Upendo

In a few words, how would you describe your style? Bold, graphic vibe, discovery

What draws or inspires you to do this work? Art in a public space is super impactful because it’s reaching folks who may not have ever been to a gallery, own any art, or been exposed to art in their life. It reaches a broader spectrum of humans, and I think that’s the big part that draws me to do street art.

What are you most excited about with this project in particular? I’ve never painted in Boston, that’s huge for me. Gonna reach some folks out there, which is all part of my plan for a global takeover.

Any hints of what you’ll be creating? Colors and vibe.

When someone walks or rides past the completed Underground Mural Project, what do you hope they’ll say or do? Hoping that my piece will inspire. Create some type of reaction good, bad or ugly.

IMAGINE876

In a few words, how would you describe your style? I paint mindful mantras in my native language, meshing the aesthetics of Sanskrit scriptures with graffiti influences.

What draws or inspires you to do this work? I’m inspired to share large-scale work that is public and open for everyone to enjoy. Art is something that changes lives, and we need this powerful entity to be accessible to more people now more than ever.

What are you most excited about with this project in particular? I am excited to be painting in South Boston because the organization Artists for Humanity is quite close. It’s a youth organization that works with kids to amplify their voice through art and entrepreneurial skills. My first job out of college was at Artists for Humanity and this is where I realized the effect of art on young people and how I can contribute to being an agent of positive change through art. It feels full circle in a lot of ways to have a mural here as my token of gratitude to this place.

Does Boston have any special connection for you? Will this be your first mural for the city? It’s not my first mural. Boston is where I was first exposed to graffiti. As a kid from Nepal, I didn’t grow up seeing graffiti or much of any sort of art. Boston is the city I chose to move to after college and this city along with my chosen family have helped me grow up from being a student who paints, into a professional artist with my unique identity. So Boston definitely has a very special connection in my heart.

When someone walks or rides past the completed Underground Mural Project, what do you hope they’ll say or do? When they pass by, I hope they smile. It’s a beautiful thing. I hope people stop to look at the walls when they notice it and I hope it makes them think.

Any sneak peaks/ hints of what you’ll be creating? It will be something soothing and powerful at the same time. A piece that will hopefully bring positivity to the space.

Thy Doan

In a few words, how would you describe your style? Honest and charming.

What draws or inspires you to do this work? I feel the desire to interject some female perspective into the mix without being overt. I think women should see other women’s work in their environments because it’s important to inspire and affirm other women.

What are you most excited about with this project in particular? I’m excited purely for the opportunity to take my lettering into another medium, on a larger scale and into a very public area for other people to be delighted, thought-provoked about and, hopefully, inspired to share with others.

Does Boston have any special connection for you? Will this be your first mural for the city? Not particularly, but this will be my first mural for the city.

When someone walks or rides past the completed Underground Mural Project, what do you hope they’ll say or do? I hope people will be delighted by the work, engage in this conversation and share it with others.

Vyal One

In a few words, how would you describe your style? Free flowing yet precise.

What draws or inspires you to do this work? Being able to contribute to the visual landscape of such a historically conservative city.

Will this be your first mural for the city? Large scale, yes. I did one with Marka27 about 10 years ago.

When someone walks or rides past the completed Underground Mural Project, what do you hope they’ll say or do? I hope they will be blown away and inspired or motivated to create something of their own. To rethink the way they see art and its importance within the public realm.

Any sneak peaks/ hints of what you’ll be creating? A big, colorful, good-luck charm.

Problak

In a few words, how would you describe your style? I would describe my style as a product of hip-hop’s golden era infused with mastering our cultures alphabet known as graffiti.

There’s something powerful about public murals and street art. What draws or inspires you to do this work? You’re right that there is power, especially when it’s given to the people. What draws me to do this work is the ability to speak louder than I could ever imagine through a medium that’s very hard to execute. There’s merit in the images we produce with the community in mind. A merit that’s hard to explain. The ability to empower the viewer is a challenge that’s worth taking. A good measure of your ability to contribute to that power is left in the hands and the reaction of our people.

What are you most excited about with this project in particular? I’m excited about working along with fellow masters in the craft and possibly making some Boston history activating a space that millions of people literally travel through on a daily basis.

Does Boston have any special connection for you? Will this be your first mural for the city? I’m born and raised in Roxbury. Home of the elevated orange line and all of its majesty. This will not be my first mural in the city.

When someone walks or rides past the completed Underground Mural Project, what do you hope they’ll say or do? I honestly just hope that once they see what we do there, they will never forget how they felt when they saw it.

Any sneak peaks/ hints of what you’ll be creating? One hint is that you can be sure that what we all do will be: BIG. GROW ON. FLOW ON.

EWOK

In a few words, how would you describe your style? My style is the reflection of where I’m currently at in a 20-plus year obsession with graffiti. Since I started painting in the early ’90s, I’ve bounced back and forth between learning the styles and structures laid out in the golden era of New York subway graffiti, and exploring/applying my own creative nuances and customizations to letters and abstract shapes and textures.
What draws or inspires you to do this work? Public art is the best of all worlds when it comes to showing your work and expressing yourself creatively. Art is as much a means of communication as it is an expression of emotions, politics, aesthetics, sexuality and rebellion, etc. Having the ability to put your work in public allows you to express your unique point of view to an unlimited audience.
When someone walks or rides past the completed Underground Mural Project, what do you hope they’ll say or do? Say “DAAAAMMMN!!!” and remember my name.

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