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ART

A new mural brings beauty and diversity to a ‘boring’ corner of Kendall Square

Cedric "Vise1" Douglas and Julia Roth brought the faces of two women to a Cambridge vent shaft.
Cedric "Vise1" Douglas and Julia Roth brought the faces of two women to a Cambridge vent shaft.Hannah Bailey (Custom credit)

Artist Cedric “Vise1″ Douglas thinks Kendall Square is one of the more “boring” parts of Cambridge. Because of the square’s brick biotech buildings, glass walls, and neutral color schemes, it’s not the most lively or attractive spot in the city, he said.

But the new mural he helped create — featuring geometric portraits of two women — could help change that.

“Bright colors are actually going to grab your attention,” Douglas said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It really stands out, and it’s important.”

Completed last month, the public painting covers a 20-foot-tall vent shaft beside Kendall Street. It was commissioned through a competition, with BioMed Realty choosing the design submitted by Douglas and his fiancée, Julia Roth.

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The couple’s creation is a testament to diversity in Cambridge.

In one section of the mural, a Black woman peers at the viewer. On the other side, a white woman gazes upward. Both have feminine features but short hair so as not to be “hyper-sexualized,” Douglas said. Neither is based on a real person. Their oval faces are interrupted by rainbow-colored diamonds that wrap around the structure.

“I think Cambridge is a little bit more diverse than Boston — there are more cultures,” Douglas said. “You’ll find people that are from India, from Haiti, Jamaica, Irish, Italian, college kids, people that are there for school, people that grew up there.”

The second side of the new Cambridge public art piece.
The second side of the new Cambridge public art piece.Hannah Bailey (Custom credit)

The mural is also a tribute to a year that brought increased awareness about racism. After the police killings of Black Americans including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, 2020 was a time for rethinking the deep-rooted inequity found in Boston and beyond.

“There’s a lot of social justice happening in the world right now,” Douglas said. “So it’s natural to create work that reflects our society.”

Diti Kohli can be reached at diti.kohli@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ditikohli_.

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