More Public Art Appears in Harvard Square: “Michelle the Blue Elephant”; Patricia Thaxton’s Mural

Three of many vinyl panels in Patricia Thaxton’s mural wrapped around the kiosk in Harvard Square
Michelle the Blue Elephant installed by Bob Smith, Minimum Wage Art, in Palmer Street near Harvard Coop in Harvard Square

View two of a few recent additions to visual art in Harvard Square. I’ll save the rest for future posts. Both artworks involve creative use of fabric. Both are in settings that don’t always enhance viewing or documenting art. But as Patricia Thaxton notes on her printed mural “The Beauty of Everyday Living,” it is about joy and harmony “in spite of it all,…”, including unavoidable traffic, trash, and construction equipment. See photos, quotes, and links:

“The Beauty of Everyday Living” by Patricia Thaxton

“Thaxton’s designs celebrate Black Harvard students, musicians and dancers at Cambridge festivals, a civil rights protest, and confident women of color. Thaxton expresses her love for nature through vibrant flowers, sunsets, the Boston skyline, a seascape and a forest. The mural also offers panels of abstract geometric designs, African textile patterns and symbols, rainbow textiles in celebration of LGBTQIA+ neighbors, and red, black and green representing the African American flag.” ( excerpted quote from Cambridge Arts/Public Art)

“Thaxton’s work is a collection of ideas and images from sketchbooks dated from the 1970’s to the present. She is influenced by moments of everyday life. Her background in family and community development is an evident theme throughout her work.” (quoted excerpt from Patricia Thaxton website)

“Michelle the Blue Elephant” from Bob Smith, Minimum Wage Art

A few days ago I happened to meet Denise Jillson, Executive Director of the Harvard Sq. Business Association. ..I took a moment to introduce myself and my art to Denise. I showed her “Michelle the Blue Elephant” and she said that it would look nice down here ( Palmer Street) . I instantly agreed.” ( Excerpt quote from Bob Smith, Minimum Wage Art, Harvard Square, Facebook July 20, 2021)

Later that day someone asked if I knew the significance of a “blue elephant”. I had no idea that in the field of mental health a blue elephant signifies de-stigmatizing mental illness, making a place safe to talk about mental illness, and a comfort to those who suffer.” ( quote excerpt from Bob Smith, Minimum Wage Art, Harvard Square, Facebook July 20, 2021)

Key Resources

Patricia Thaxton’s Harvard Square Mural, Cambridge Arts, Public Art

Patricia Thaxton, Artist Website

Harvard Square Facebook, July 20, 2021, Denise visits with artists Bob Smith (Minimum Wage Art) and Kyoko Ono to discuss their latest installation found on Palmer Street, Michelle the Blue Elephant.


  1. Beautiful murals!! Thank you for sharing, Deb! We’ll have to go by and see them in person!

  2. Deb,Please contact me. I have an idea for you for some “art outdoors” that is currently happening in Belmont (and Anne is involved in).Peggy _______________ Peggy Kornegger Spiritflower:

  3. I love how these make a construction area beautiful and special – thanks for sharing!

  4. […] post about Michelle the Blue Elephant from August 2021 offers related links and background about public art in Harvard Square. My hopes […]


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