Somerville, MA USQ unveiled a public art mural by local artist Sophy Tuttle that weaves together history, art, and nature. The artwork adds intrigue to the Bennett Court façade of 10 Prospect St. USQ’s seven-story lab building, located at the corner of Prospect St. and Somerville Ave. in Union Sq.
The mural, titled “Restoration,” portrays a river otter swimming in a body of water, surrounded by native plants. Spanning 15 ft. by 30 ft., its allure extends beyond aesthetics, enriching the public realm by paying homage to the natural world as well as connecting back to Union Sq.’s legacy as a dynamic commercial center. The design celebrates the Miller’s River, which once flowed through Union Sq., and serves as a reminder of the neighborhood’s historical significance, providing water transport to commercial and industrial sites along its shores since the colonial period. The otter symbolizes the restoration of the surrounding land and the importance of supporting nature in urban environments.
USQ collaborated with the Somerville Arts Council, to create and implement an open call to the creative community to submit interest in the project, welcoming creators renowned for their impactful public art installations. Three exceptional individuals emerged as standouts from over a dozen interested artists, earning their advancement to the subsequent phase. With this milestone, each artist was granted a stipend to create site-specific proposals based on their concept. The final selection process yielded artist Sophy Tuttle’s compelling proposal.
“I believe in the unique power of public art to ignite discussions and cultivate a shared sense of community. By infusing my interest in biology and the future of science, I’ve created a mural that speaks to the occupants of the space and captivates passersby. This mural is now part of Somerville’s vibrant outdoor art landscape, while hopefully allowing the viewer to find something new each time,” said Tuttle.
Greg Karczewski, president of US2, expressed his excitement, “Enhancing Union Sq.’s public realm and celebrating the local arts community are important goals of the USQ project. We are thrilled that this process connected us with Sophy Tuttle and we love the result! Through Sophy’s talents and vision, we’ve added another layer to the public spaces in the neighborhood – one that speaks to critical connections to nature and history of place while enlivening spaces that support the future of the square.”