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NewsAug 18, 2021

Michael Talbot ’18 takes a hands-on approach to public art

Alumni artist Michael Talbot helps celebrate a local business with a new mural in East Somerville

Michael Talbot works on his East Somerville mural "Artisanal."
Michael Talbot '18 works on his mural "Artisanal" on the wall of Deano's Pasta in East Somerville.

Hand-crafted pasta may seem like an unlikely subject for a public artwork, but for artist Michael Talbot ’18, it presented an enticing opportunity. His mural, titled “Artisanal,” will adorn a wall at Deano's Pasta, a fourth-generation family pasta business located in East Somerville.

Talbot earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Lesley in 2018 in Illustration and Graphic Design, with a minor in Animation and Motion Media. Since graduating he’s worked as a freelance illustrator and taught animation and illustration at Lesley. As an undergraduate, the Jamaica-born artist collaborated with author Valrie Kemp-Davis on an illustrated children’s book titled “Jamaican Mi Seh Mi ABC’s” and his current work incorporates the skills he developed at Lesley, spanning the worlds of illustration, public art, graphic novels, comic books, and more, including a recent foray into tattoo designs.

For his design for “Artisanal,” Talbot focused on a pair of hands, energetically mixing and kneading dough as ribbons of pasta spring to life. As an artist, he felt a natural kinship with the craft behind the business.

“They’re a handmade pasta shop,” he says. “I wanted to reflect that in the design and show the hands actively making the pasta.”

The mural, spearheaded by East Somerville Main Streets and funded by the Somerville Arts Council and the Mass Cultural Council, is part of an ongoing effort designed to bring more public art to the area. Talbot works at Hub Comics in nearby Union Square, owned by Lesley animation professor Tim Finn, and is familiar with the neighborhood, which is Somerville’s most diverse.

“There are a lot of family-owned businesses around the area, so it does feel very homey,” he says.

Michael Talbot, photo credit Steffie Belnavis
Michael Talbot's artwork spans illustration, graphic novels, comics, tattoo design, and more. Photo: Steffie Belnavis @thediahannproject

He’s forged a personal connection with Deano’s owners, Dean and Hala Matarazzo.

“They're very lovely people—very friendly, very welcoming. I had a chance to sit down and talk with them and get their feedback.” 

The Matarazzos are excited about the mural which will enhance a customer parking lot where they host a weekly farmers market. The couple, whose family has been making and selling pasta in Somerville since 1947, was struck by Talbot’s application.

“Michael’s vision really resonated with us,” says Hala Matarazzo. “We felt like it really reflected who we are and what we do.”

Talbot plans to finish the project in several weeks and is working on his own, using a lift to sketch and complete the design.

“I’ve been wanting to do a solo mural for a while now. I’ve worked on a couple other murals with other people. But in terms of a large-scale project like this, this is the first one I’ve done.”

Aside from the Deano’s mural, Talbot is currently working on another children’s book and a series of artwork for Boston Children’s Hospital. He has another project in the works that he can’t talk about yet. “I’ll be making a larger announcement on that soon. We’ve got to keep a little suspense,” he quips.

Designing and executing his artwork on a larger scale has been a new challenge, but Talbot is looking forward to seeing the finished piece and getting involved in more public art projects that enhance public spaces and strengthen community connections. In the meantime he’s focused on honoring the dedication and artistry that has kept Deano’s thriving.

“The thought kept going through my mind—you are what you love,” he says. “And you pour into your passions and your hobbies as much as you enjoy it and love it.”

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At Lesley University, you can pursue undergraduate majors in IllustrationGraphic Design, Animation & Motion Media and more. Learn more about the amazing work our art and design students and alumni are doing.