Murals that Work

PITTSBURGH, PA, USA – “We Fall Down but We Get Back up” is the quote scrawled across the wall on the Paulson Street mural in Larimer.

The designer and lead artist, Kyle Holbrook, doesn’t usually use words in his murals because he believes that art speaks for itself. But for this one, he felt the message deserved a voice in the community.  Mr. Holbrook grew up in Wilkinsburg in the 1990s, when the Larimer Avenue-Wilkinsburg (LAW) Gang wreaked havoc in the area. “It was about this community revitalizing itself,” Mr. Holbrook said about the mural. “It’s symbolic for future change.”

The mural was painted in 2008 in about 2 and 1/2 weeks. The faces that surround the mural were community leaders and those who showed up at town meetings to advocate for the mural.  Prominent among them was Ora Lee Carroll, the founder of East Liberty Concerned Citizens Corp.

Though Ms. Carroll’s family was plagued by drug addiction and domestic violence, more than once she was nominated for the Post-Gazette’s Outstanding Citizen Award.  Through this mural, Mr. Holbrook said, her efforts to advocate for the betterment of the community live on, though she died in January.  “She was the driving force behind this mural,” Mr. Holbrook said. “She was one tough lady.”

Changing a community may take more than a mural, but when a community begins to heal, Mr. Holbrook says, “Public art is one of the first steps.”

"We Fall Down but We Get Back up" by Kyle Holbrook, 2008 in Pittsburgh, PA.

“We Fall Down but We Get Back up” by Kyle Holbrook, 2008 in Pittsburgh, PA.

AUSTIN, TX, USA – Community kicks off fundraising campaign to save iconic South Austin mural.

It’s an iconic image, one that is stamped on posters and coasters and available in just about every souvenir shop in town. But the famous “Greetings From Austin” mural, located on the side of Roadhouse Relics on South First Street, also needs extensive repairs.  In order to restore the public art, which was created in 1998, the Bouldin neighborhood is rallying together to help raise funds for its restoration.

Troy Madres and his family have lived just a few blocks from the painting, also known as “the Austin postcard,” for almost five years. During that time, the Madres family has made it a point to snap a family portrait in front of the mural every year.  When Madres, who spent time restoring public art projects in Philadelphia, noticed the mural’s deterioration, he decided to take action.

“It’s a landmark,” Madres says. “It gives an idea of what came before. It tells a story and teaches people about their community.”

Fun pictures at the iconic 1998 mural in Austin.

Fun pictures at the iconic 1998 mural in Austin.

Community comes together to repair now iconic mural in Austin, TX.

Community comes together to repair now iconic mural in Austin, TX.

LAGOS, NIGERIA – Collaborative Mural to Speak to Aspiration

Brett Cook’s project, Sharing Culture, was inspired by his ever-evolving conception of collaboration and art making as a framework for personal transformation and social relevance within a local context. He conducted a series of workshop exercises with participants in self-portraiture,photography and visual thinking. At the All-Saints College, Jericho in Ibadan Brett ‘ruptured the silence of the school environment’ when he changed the working style and the method of teaching art. Here, he asked students in this co-ed school to spill out into the lawn for exercises, sit together to draw and paint in a way that was not the norm in their school. The workshop in Ibadan ended with a gallery presentation of the drawings by students, which the school as a whole viewed with interest. Sharing Culture encouraged experimentation and relationship building among the participants based on a dialogue about self-awareness. By asking the participants to consider their own social network, the project also established a framework for participants to explore the expanded societal benefits of art and how art can be a force for personal discovery within the larger community. The final result was a mural at the university in Ibadan which was an aspirational vision of hope that included five upward-looking self-portraits, viewed from behind, which invited spectators to share in the skyward gaze.

Watch the video:

Lagos Murals

Lagos Murals

NEW YORK CITY, USA – Groundswell’s Youth Media Council
Over seven weeks, 100 New York City teens have had a one-of-a-kind job experience, as part of Groundswell’s 2013 Summer Leadership Institute.  These teen artists have interviewed survivors of Superstorm Sandy, to understand ongoing recovery needs in their communities. They’ve visited the Catskill Mountains, to discover first hand where New York City’s water comes from. They’ve gone live on air on NY1, to advocate for safe streets in all neighborhoods.  And they have created art.  Eight new works of murals, from Riverbank State Park to Coney Island, Brownsville to Hunts Point. Art that educates, activates, heals, and inspires.
Groundswell Summer Program of Murals for Teens

Groundswell Summer Program of Murals for Teens

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s