“I’m originally from Mexico, so English is my second language. When you have immigrant parents and are from Mexico but grow up in the U.S., you grow up very different. You have this dual-identity where you’re neither from here nor there. I grew up in a rough neighborhood in Dallas and graffiti was a huge outlet for me — that was my first introduction to art. I was accepted to a performing arts high school, and eventually got a scholarship to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Artwork has always been a cultural thing for me. My art is influenced by Mexican muralists and graffiti culture, and with the larger scale murals I create, it’s even more important to showcase this. We’re living during a time where my people and our skin color are being talked about as if we’re bad for the country or we’re coming here with bad intentions. There’s a lot of propaganda, and the only way to negate the stereotypes is to show the beauty of our culture.
When [CSBA Executive Director] Mike showed me the wall, I knew I had to do something that was pretty bold and impactful in terms of scale and presence. The title of the mural is Queendom. I really wanted to celebrate African American culture and women’s empowerment. It’s important that a young girl can look up and see someone in her lightness, bigger than life with beautiful colors, and animals & patterns associated with African culture. From the beginning, I knew it needed to scream ‘Welcome to Cambridge’ since we are also part of Cambridge — our culture is represented here.
Having lived collectively in Massachusetts for a little over eight years and Cambridge being one of the places that I really enjoyed living in, I hope my mural helps with the stereotype of Massachusetts (and New England) being such a racist place. In some cases, it’s absolutely true, but you can say that about areas in every major city. Massachusetts gets a bad reputation, but I believe there are very forward-thinking, like-minded people in Cambridge, thriving in areas where people don’t get to visit that often.
Murals that I’ve done and others have created as part of the Mural Project give the city a fresher perspective. When it comes to art and culture, Cambridge is more open-minded than people would perceive. It’s a cultural hub for schools, entertainment, food, and art, and it’s one of my favorite places to take people when they want to experience something new in New England. I’ll always say, ‘let’s go to Central Square.’”
– Victor “MARKA27” Quiñonez
Photos taken by Todd Mazer.
Connect with Marka: instagram.com/marka_27
Learn more about Marka’s work: marka27.com