Christina Mardirosian

Tile image

Current name: Christina Maestri

Age when this tile was made: 11

Where did you live when you made this tile?

Kidder Avenue

Where else have you lived in Somerville?

Newbury Street

Where do you live now?

Stoneham, Massachusetts

Do you consider Somerville your hometown? Yes

What is your earliest Somerville memory?

It’s not surprising to me that my earliest Somerville memory revolves around food! My parents used to take me to McDonald’s in Davis Square. As I swiveled around in my chair, I started the ritual of peeling my 2 cheeseburgers apart, pulling out the pickles and putting both patties into one bun. These were the days before parental consciousness about the dangers of fast food!

How would you describe Somerville in the 1980s?

Somerville in the 80’s was working class, blue collar city made up of mostly white Irish-Italian families. I think I was the only Armenian in the school! :)

How would you describe Somerville today?

My parents still live right outside Davis Square, so I’ve been in the city a least once a week for most of my life. I walk through the Square and it’s an interesting mix of old Somerville and new Somerville. I still see some of the same old timers and familiar faces wandering around, but there are fewer and fewer of them. The sad thing is, they seem out of place.

How has Somerville changed?

The big change came about with opening of Red Line in Davis Square in 1984. This was the catalyst that began the city’s dynamic transformation. It brought life to an ailing city that was in a desperate need of revitalization. However, I don’t think there’s any denying that the fabric of the city began to change, and over time, went from being family based, to being collegiate based (at least in my area of the city). The students appeared. The restaurants appeared. Artistic and ethnic diversity appeared. All these things are good, progressive things, that are essential for a city’s growth. But with all these changes, something old is bound to get replaced by something new.

The Powder House Community School, where I made my subway tile, has been closed due low student enrollment. There aren’t enough families in the neighborhood to keep it open. Yet years ago, those same streets surrounding the school were teeming with kids.

My tile was one of the many that didn't make it onto the subway walls. On the day the subway opened in 1984, I ran up and down the station looking for my tile. After searching for longer than I should have and realizing it wasn't there, I went home and cried. I know it sounds crazy! But even then I loved art and knew that it would be part of my life in some way. I went on to get my BA in Art from UMASS and today I am a painter. When I take my own kids onto the red line in Davis Square, they have to endure the "tile that never was" story" ! I tell them I’ll just have to make my indelible mark with my art in another way, in another place.