Northeastern is turning its campus into a canvas

Street artists from all over the world are adorning the university with public art.

It was raining when Jef Aérosol arrived in Boston, but at least his umbrella matched Northeastern’s Shepard Fairey mural. —Northeastern University

Edgar Allen Poe and John Lee Hooker recently showed up on Northeastern University’s campus.

No, they’re not back from the dead. The pair was reincarnated by stencil graffiti artist Jef Aérosol—the pseudonym of Jean-François Perroy. He’s been painting murals all over Northeastern this week as part of President Joseph Aoun’s public art initiative. Northeastern is turning its campus into a canvas.

The art isn’t just for Northeastern students to enjoy. The locations of Aérosol’s murals, as well as works by previous visiting artists like El Mac, Daniel Anguilu, and Shepard Fairey, can be experienced by passers-by.

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“It’s about creating art for the entire public community to enjoy, not just Northeastern but all of Boston,’’ said Renata Nyul, the university’s assistant vice president of communications. “We’re an open, urban campus.’’

Northeastern is conveniently located within an already artistic area: The Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are all within walking distance. One piece Aérosol is currently working on faces Huntington Avenue right across the street from the MFA.

Northeastern’s public art (story continues after gallery):

But that’s not Aoun’s main motivation for decorating his campus.

“This is a personal passion of his,’’ Nyul said. “He’s a huge fan of street murals. He travels and sees examples, expression of artists all over the world.’’

Aérosol has already put up at least five or six pieces, she said, but keeps surprising the campus with more. He swiftly stenciled three small pieces last weekend; Northeastern’s faculty noticed them Monday morning.

“You have to leave room for creative expression,’’ Nyul said. “It seems like the entire Northeastern community is very happy and excited about getting this art.’’

Public art has been spreading throughout Boston lately, but while most of the city’s pieces are temporary, there aren’t any upcoming plans to cover the Northeastern murals.

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“Obviously, we would love for all of these pieces to last forever,’’ Nyul said. “From the practical standpoint, anything on public walls are subject to the elements, but we’re hoping to keep them as long as possible.’’

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