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  • Words and Photos by John Domine

On the Road: Worcester, MA

Just a few hours north of New York City (or an hour west of Boston) lies the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, known as the "Heart of the Commonwealth", with a heart emblazoned on every street sign. I spent a few days there last week soaking in the love during the 2nd Annual Pow!Wow!Worcester Mural Festival to check out the works in progress as well as some of the walls from it's inaugural event from 2016.

Historically speaking, a "pow wow" is a social gathering held by many different Native American communities, whose literal meaning is "spiritual leader". It is a time to celebrate with dance and color and beauty, resulting in smiles and comradery among its participants, both the dancers and the audience alike.

The Pow! Wow! Mural Festival is not so dissimilar in its purpose. Rather than bringing people together to celebrate the beauty of dance, it does so by celebrating the beauty of public art. Founded by Jasper Wong with its first event held in Hong Kong in 2010, the festival has now become a more global celebration, adding locations such as Hawaii, Austin, Long Beach, Japan, Taiwan, Washington, D.C., Antelope Valley, and its latest addition, Worcester. They even have plans to further expand their creative network to include Israel, Singapore, Jamaica, Guam, New Zealand and Germany.

Here are some of the completed walls (and works in progress) from this year's event, with works from such artists as Julia Yubaba & Key Detail, CRASHONE, It's A Living, Dasic Fernandez, Nosego, Greg Mike, Kelly Towles, Patch Whisky and Ghostbeard, as well as many others, both seasoned and first-timers, such as Scott Boilard and Becky Cloonan, who painted their very first murals during the festival :

Several of these masterpieces were painted at local schools to inspire creativity in the students. The Elm Park Community School, the Canterbury Street School, and the Worcester Arts Magnet School, were lucky enough to witness their places of learning being masterfully transformed into beautiful works of art they can truly be proud of. It really is a tremendous gift. The looks of the children's faces was enough to make it a worthwhile endeavor.

Here are some of the walls from last year's event for Pow! Wow! Worcester, as well as some other murals seen around town which were not curated by Pow! Wow!:

As you can see by the amazing work being done there, it warrants a visit for the art alone. A map to all of the murals from this year's event is located on the Pow! Wow! website. So, what are you waiting for? If you can't make it this year, start planning for next year's festival, which takes place at the end of September.

And keep your eyes peeled for a Pow! Wow! near you. It is an incredible experience to witness these artists creating such beauty. You wouldn't want to miss it!

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