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Students to Lead Walking Tours in Downtown Worcester This Weekend

April 20th, 2017 by 
The mural on the Denholm Building, created during POW! WOW! Worcester 2016.

Tom Rettig

Love art and looking for something to do this Saturday? Sarah Valente ’16 and Therese Starshak ’17 are inviting residents, students and visitors to participate in the first Worcester Wall to Wall, a free event featuring college student-led walking tours to explore the city’s public murals.

The tours, which will cover a total distance of 1.5 miles, will be held between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 22. The murals to be included, such as those featured on the side of Mechanics Hall facing Waldo Street and the Hanover Theatre for Performing Arts on Federal Street, were created during the first POW! WOW! Worcester Festival last year.

“As I was researching the set of murals for the Worcester Mural Archive, I realized how few Holy Cross students, me included, knew about this festival and its attempt to aid the revitalization project of Worcester’s downtown,” said Starshak, a biology major.

The POW! WOW! Worcester Festival invites both domestic and international artists to engage in Worcester’s history and culture by painting large scale public murals on buildings throughout the city. According to the Worcester Mural Archive (WMA) website, maintained by studio art major Bryan Gallagher ’18, these paintings give context for the cultural shifts and socio-economic climate of Worcester, and provide a “universal form of civic engagement that fosters community across age, race and gender that can help unite Worcester’s diverse population.” Dates and artists for POW! WOW! Worcester 2017 are coming soon, according to the website.

The WMA is funded by the College of the Holy Cross’ Mellon Summer Research Program in the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts and the Marshall Memorial Fund. Valente, a chemistry major with a double minor in studio art and art history, developed the WMA as part of her capstone project during her senior year. The original project began with just six murals, and has since expanded to cover 21 distinct walls of art.

“Tess’ passion for accessibility and public art has supported POW! WOW! Worcester’s mission to further engage the community, specifically, the college community,” said Valente.

“I hope after these tours, individuals come away feeling inspired, proud and excited for their city, with a deeper appreciation of the arts and Worcester’s mural collection,” said Starshak. “I also hope that through this project, and the increased awareness of POW! WOW! Worcester, people start to recognize the tangible start which has occurred to help Worcester restart as a city full of artistic and cultural vibrancy.”

Tours will leave every 20 minutes from the Worcester Historical Museum at 30 Elm St.

Worcester Wall to Wall is sponsored by the Holy Cross Ignite Fund and Marshall Memorial Fund.

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