Cambridge native Caleb Neelon helped us bring even more color to #CentralSQ through his vibrant mural ‘The Teacher’s Home’. His work spans along the wall in the H Mart parking lot, at the intersection of Essex Street and Bishop Allen Drive. Learn more about Caleb and the inspiration behind his mural!
“I liked to do many art-related things as a kid, and my parents were good about having art supplies around so that I could create things. It helped me stay busy, set personal goals, and not mind my own company. In March of 1990, I was 13 when my mother and I visited family friends in Germany. We took a trip to Berlin where the Wall had just opened, but was still covered in graffiti. I had been to New York and seen graffiti elsewhere, but this really struck me. It didn't take long before a local friend explained how graffiti worked and I was out trying it myself. I loved big art that was in public view, and that became a large part of what I do in my life as an adult artist today.
Combining travel and painting when I was younger was magical and made me a part of the global tribe of people who do the same. At that time, knowing there were so many kindred spirits out there and cities to paint meant a great wide world at a time when Boston felt so narrow. Making artwork in the area today that my own child and her friends can grow up around has been an important satisfaction at a different stage in my life.
My mural depicts the interior of a teacher's home. She looks out at the frenzy of gut renos and lux condos and high-rises going up. Behind her is her bulletin board, which is covered in children's drawings (my daughter helped on this part), several nods to important locals, and some of the literature that those looking to find a home will be surrounded by. Will she be able to find a home here in the future? Do we want to be the kind of city where the answer is a scoff and a no? The Teacher's Home is a thank you to the women and the city that raised me, and a hope that we do not lose what we for many years have had. I hope that people can appreciate the predicament it depicts, and that those whose predicament is depicted feel heard in some way. Or that maybe their gray day is brightened by some color.
This wall previously had a well-loved mural by a wonderful formerly local artist, Be Sargent. Her mural had been partly covered by new construction and thus it was no longer intact. Because her mural was no longer intact and she no longer lived in the Northeast, Be gave her blessing to the change after 15+ years. I'm grateful for that and the challenge was to honor that transition by doing the best work I could.
I grew up here in Cambridge, still live here, and my daughter is a public school student here. When I was younger, Cambridge was still a place where civil servants and creative bohemians could call home. It was an amazing feeling to see art on all of these walls that I had been ogling to paint since I was a teenager. This was a project by locals and as Cambridge changes and grows, it's so important that we honor the culture which is home-grown. Let's keep painting! And thank you Mike for making it all happen.
— Caleb Neelon, Mural Artist
Photos by Todd Mazer @toddmazer