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Massive mural underway off I-84 could soon be New England's biggest

Commuters in Hartford may have noticed a mural taking shape on the side of an 18-story apartment building overlooking Interstate 84.

For weeks, artists have been perched on scaffolding, painting the wall. Recently, an image has emerged of a boy holding a jar of fireflies.

The boy, Sam, is from East Hartford, said Michael Rice, the lead artist.

"It’s meant to inspire hope, imagination, maybe a sense of wonderment, kind of tapping into that nostalgia a little bit, that we are all yearning for these days," Rice said. "We are so accustomed to staring at blank concrete and billboards. I would just hope it would help improve people’s lives on their daily commutes ... and maybe they find a sense of inspiration when they take it in."

The mural was made possible through the Hartford-based public arts organization “RiseUPforArts.” It is part of a city-wide initiative to commission even more mural projects in the future.

The mural should be completed by the end of June, Rice said.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.