Add one more destination to downtown Houston’s growing list of selfie- and Instagram-worthy art spots. A mural, curated by Street Art for Mankind, is now on full display at Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites Houston Downtown’s five-story, 250-foot wall, located on the back of the property situated on Crawford between Rusk and Capitol. It’s the largest mural in the city, and it has an even larger story behind it.
The mural’s aim is to raise awareness and mobilize support to combat rising United States and global food insecurity, especially in the socioeconomic fallout of the pandemic. The project is part of an overall effort to bring attention to and support for the United Nations “Zero Hunger” campaign. It is one of six murals that dot the country, including locations in New Orleans, Oakland, Calif., Washington, Detroit and Battle Creek, Mich.
Street Art for Mankind’s Co-founder Audrey Decker explained, “We create murals around the world to raise awareness on the subject of social justice. People are suffering or at risk in connection to hunger, and the pandemic has made it worse. This mural raises the issue on the local level.”
The United States has been hit with an unprecedented hunger crisis as well, as the pandemic’s fallout triggered unemployment, income loss, and widespread food insecurity. Considering Houston’s demographics, the numbers hit even harder. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, African-Americans are twice as likely to face hunger as non-Hispanic, Caucasian households.
In addition to bringing awareness via the mural, Street Art for Mankind is working with Kellogg Company to donate on local levels in the fight against food insecurity. It has already made a $10,000 donation to Ivy Leaf Farms, located in Houston’s Sunnyside.
To bring the mural to fruition, Street Art for Mankind first needed a home for the art. Enter Josh Decker, General Manager of Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites Houston Downtown. (No relation to Audrey Decker)
“It was a little exciting and a little odd to receive a call out of the blue to have someone want to paint the wall of my building. I was intrigued and excited. Hilton has strong ties to the United Nations and the ‘Zero Hunger’ movement as well as impacting our community in a positive way,” Decker said. “Once we had an understanding of what was being proposed and we saw the rendering, we were blown away. We couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to impact our community in a positive way. We’re excited to be a part of it, raise awareness. And with a wall this big?... There’s no way it won’t raise awareness for the ‘Zero Impact’ movement.”
Visitors to the murals can use Street Art for Mankind’s free “Behind the Wall” app to scan or photograph the mural, instantly accessing more details about the mural, the hunger crisis, and how to take action globally and locally.
Of course, creating a piece of work of this size requires a tremendous talent, and Street Art for Mankind found it in the artist Dragon76, who used human faces and buzz words to evoke the story behind food insecurity.
The artist said, “The idea is to have a style of drawing that portrays the person’s face. I’m trying to show their emotion with the facial expression and the words on their hats or face… Also, I’m looking for people to get the idea of coexistence. People from many communities can exist together to raise up and interact with each other.”
No good deed goes without its challenges, though. For Dragon76, the sheer size of the mural proved the hardest hurdle to overcome.
“The most challenging part of the wall is the size. It’s the largest I’ve ever painted. I couldn’t estimate how much material it would need. There is also the concern of time. I had two weeks to complete the project, but he wasn’t sure how much time it would take to complete the area,” he said.
To fix the issue, he brought his family to work on the area together – a total of four relatives and four additional support team members in total.
“I hope people will look at the wall and take something positive from the work. Hopefully they take a picture to post to the world to expand the idea of world hunger. Hopefully it makes them think of ‘Zero Hunger.’ I think this is a good approach to get more people to think about food justice and hopefully they get something positive from this Earth,” Dragon76 said.
For right now, though, grab the selfie stick and find the right sunset lighting for your next social media photo in front of Street Art for Mankind’s masterpiece.
The mural is located at Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites Houston Downtown, 710 Crawford. For more information, visit Street Art for Mankind’s project, visit streetartmankind.org/zero-hunger.
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