Tracy Barbosa is the co-owner of Duende Studio in New Bedford and is heavily involved in community art projects. The Azulejos Street Mural Project is one of her latest pieces and one that any self-respecting Portuguese person on the SouthCoast can identify with.

“Being of Portuguese descent, I have always loved the blue and white azulejos of Portugal,” says Barbosa. “The more I found out about them, the more I realized these tiles are a modern marvel marking the earliest trade routes with Asia and Europe, and later beyond that. Every country has its own version of this style of hand-painted tile.”

This mural project all started in New Bedford. “I am part of an organization called Love the Ave. Our mission is to highlight life and wellness on Acushnet Ave and the North End of NB.” Barbosa was inspired to create a traffic-calming mural within the intersection at the entrance of Riverside Park's Soccer Park since there had been a history of fatal and serious accidents involving pedestrians in that intersection.

Tracy Barbosa via Facebook

“Part of my original New Bedford project was to combine imagery from a past population in the North End (Portuguese) with the new population (Guatemalan). I used designs from Guatemalan fabrics and art to create the Acushnet avenue and Belleville avenue murals.”

Barbosa heard that the City of Providence Art, Culture, and Tourism office had put out a call for 2020 temporary mural ideas, and decided to spread the azulejo love. “I was awarded this project through the ACT Public Art Ideas Competition. The mural is not the same as the one in New Bedford but keeps in line with the blue and white motif. This mural will be one large image of four arms holding each other in a square shape with Azulejos-inspired embellishment.”

This mural will be located at the intersection of Providence Street and Pearl Street, across from a playground that will have the tile-version of the intersection image repeated on a wall in the playground to round out the motif.

The murals are temporary since they are painted, but Barbosa hopes that the impression will be lasting. The goal is to help keep streets safe for pedestrians, engage neighbors in a community-building activity, and teach children that our neighborhoods belong to us.

Barbosa is asking for volunteers to assist in creating the third installation of the Azulejos Street Mural Project on Saturday, September 12 at 11 am. “All ages are welcome, but adult supervision will be required for minors. Masks are mandatory as well.” If interested in participating, please email Tracy at tracy@duendeglass.com.

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