Boston Art Scene: The Mysterious Goddess Mural at Northeastern

street art boston northeastern mural

Image Courtesy of

As the first in our running series of art highlights, we’re going to be looking at this iconic street art: Ars et Scientia. This spraypaint mural lies on Northeastern’s Meserve Hall, at 37 Leon St. overlooking Centennial Common. It was painted by Miles MacGregor, a Los Angeles-based street artist who goes by “El Mac”. El Mac’s signature style uses circular contours to create depth and features on his large-scale depictions of people.

Ars et Scientia shows a goddess-like figure in a cloth, clutching a bolt of lightning in one hand, and a thick paintbrush in the other. Her eyes are closed, but her head is tilted to the sky. Behind her lies two circular haloes with blue and red, spiraling patterns in each. Over her head lies scattered, glowing stars.

There’s much more meaning to Ars et Scientia than first meets the eye. First of all, the name means “art and science”, which is depicted by the goddess holding both a lightning bolt and a paintbrush. This mural was commissioned by Northeastern, so the focus on these subjects isn’t entirely surprising. However, where the real meaning lies is El Mac himself.

street art boston northeastern mural

Image Courtesy of

El Mac’s parents met when they were both in college. His father was studying engineering at Northeastern while his mother was studying painting at MassArt. Thus, the depicted goddess is not only a creator of art and science; the two combined arguably created El Mac himself. The duality of the painting is further emphasized by the blue and red, tempestuous patterns behind the goddess.

But, this painting shows El Mac’s present as well as his past. The model for the goddess was El Mac’s wife, Kim, introducing another deeply personal attribute to the mural.

street art boston northeastern mural el mac

Image Courtesy of

El Mac’s signature technique creates an ethereal, glowing image that, even in grayscale, is light and smooth. He was able to accomplish this by keeping his spray cans in a cooler of ice during the painting process, which slows the flow of the spray and creates a ghostly image. His manipulation of shadows also defines the piece. The goddess of art and science is certainly a powerful figure—toned and towering over the common with her backdrop of the stars.

Check out our Arts page regularly for more street art highlights and articles!



Review overview