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Public Art Tour | Cambridge Arts Council
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"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial"

Maduna, Vusumuzi

Riverside, Mural

100 Putnam Ave.

Cambridge, MA 02139

Location Description: Martin Luther King, Jr. School

Date: 1971

Materials: Plastic, painted metal, metal mesh

Dimensions: 19' x 40' x 3'

Vusumuzi Maduna's affecting mural portrays four key events in the life of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: a sermon, demonstration, arrest, and, finally, the reverend's mule drawn funeral cortege. A red cross stretches across the composition, symbolizing King's work as a Baptist minister and the blood shed during the Civil Rights Movement. Another metal element suggests the body of a bus, reminding viewers of Rosa Parks' refusal to sit at the back of a public bus in Alabama. Its yellow-orange colors also refer to schoolbuses, which have literally been the vehicles of desegregation for American public schools. Finally, Maduna's main choice of material for the biographical events - black perforated sheet metal - lends the figures a shadowy quality that softens the violence of the scenes yet doesn't diminish the work's powerful message of faith, love, and resistance.

Sculptor/painter Maduna is a lifelong resident of the Boston area. His site-specific work, which combines an interest in African art with his own expressive style, has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. Many of his public installations are located in the Cambridge and Boston area, including The Judge, a recent commission for the Roxbury District Court House. Educated at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, he has been Master Artist in Residence at Northeastern University.