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  • Writer's pictureSteve Hamm

Community Murals

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

In recent years, the placing murals in public spaces has become wildly popular, with cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, and Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende turning public murals into calling cards for tourists. But murals can also send powerful social messages and help pull communities together. As part of their efforts to build awareness and foster action concerning climate change, communities can use public mural projects to help themselves become more sustainable and resilient.

The Pivot Projects Arts & Culture workstream is developing a framework to help individuals and communities conceive and complete such projects. If you want to engage with us to explore the possibilities for launching social-awareness mural projects in your community, please fill out the form at the bottom on this page.

Masking Up in San Miguel de Allende

Gustav Klimt’s “The Lady in Gold” with mask, by artist Juice (Jesus Valenzuela).

The historic Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende was already well known for its many public murals when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. City leaders were alarmed to see that few young people were wearing masks to protect themselves and others from the virus, so they launched a public mural campaign aimed at raising awareness. They paid young artists to paint murals based on famous paintings—adding masks to the faces. The campaigned helped. Young people got the message and the city’s disease rate remained low. Here’s a blog post about the campaign by Robert Hawkins, a US expat who lives in the city.

A Blueprint for Public Murals Projects

CT Murals in Hartford, Connecticut, USA, is a collaboration of artists, community members, enterprises, and volunteers committed to bringing vibrancy to the streets, buildings, and homes in Connecticut and beyond through murals and other public art mediums. It’s public arts program helps communities co-develop mural projects. Here’s founder Matt Conway explaining the program to a meeting of Pivot Projects.

CT Murals forms partnerships with local communities to co-develop public arts projects. The entire process typically takes 3-6 months. Here’s a graphic laying out the responsibilities of each party.

One of CT Murals’ current projects is the MLK39 Racial Equity Tour. The group is collaborating with community groups in 39 Connecticut cities and towns to complete murals related to US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., celebrating his legacy and highlighting local, national, and global civil rights leaders. Here’s a video about one of the mural projects, this one in New Haven, Connecticut.

The Pollinators Mural Project in Schull, Ireland

In the Midst of the pandemic, Kathleen Britz, a Pivot Projects participant, launched an effort to bring a world-renown muralist to the Irish seaside town of Schull to paint a mural that will help people understand the importance of pollinators to nature and humans. Here’s her story so far:

The Transformation of Sao Paulo

Back in 2007, the mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil, shocked commercial interests in the city by proposing a ban on outdoor advertising, and, ultimately he got his way. At around the same time, city officials reverse an earlier war on muralists and started encouraging murals in public spaces. The result of these two policy changes is that Sao Paulo is now festooned with fantastic public wall murals. Here's an article about it in the New York Times.

A Mural Artist Explains How It's Done

Aaron Scales, a mural artist based in the United States, provides tips for painting murals in public spaces in this YouTube video (excuse the advertisement).

Engage with Us

Here’s our one-page framework for helping out with public mural projects:

The Murals Framework
Download PDF • 29KB

If you would like our advice on how to develop a public-space project in your community or have advice for us or others, please fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.

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