Community conscious public art has certainly become a phenomenon in the past year. In places like Chicago and Atlanta, public art is starting to have a more community based theme with more attachment to the challenges and triumphs of the neighborhood in which it resides. Richmond is right in the mix of this current public art explosion thanks to both the Richmond Mural Project and the RVA Street Art Festival. But even the aforementioned public art projects seem to operate within a footprint that doesn’t reach Richmond’s most challenged communities. There are not a lot of (if any nonprofit or corporate sponsored) community conscious public art in the neighborhoods like Highland Park or Fairfield; that is until now. My brother Hamilton Glass just finished up an amazing peace in Highland Park. I linked up with HAM? so he could tell me about the project. #WESEEIT Arts, Culture, Community = The Cheats Movement
How did this mural come about?
This mural was brought about by a VCU student (Carson Lucarelli) whose thesis is based on improving the Highland Park area. He has been working with several of the board members for the area to really understand what the area needs. Carson has been following my work for a while and thought my work would be an inspirational piece for the neighborhood. Carson connected me with Boaz and Ruth Director Megan Rollins about year ago. We both met and shared the same vision of art being another vehicle to inspire the residents of Highland Park.
Why is having a mural in Highland Park special to you as an artist?
This project was very special to me because it embodies what I try to do as a public artist; inspire change and hope. Most of my murals are either in the arts district or in the fan . There aren’t many murals being put up in Richmond that are outside of the arts district. This mural brings awareness to an area that usually receive negative press, but with this mural it serves to highlight that this is a community that cares about each other and what happens there, and wants to see a positive change occur there.
What do you think this mural represents to the HP Community?
When developing the design, I had the opportunity to sit down with a group of residence who guided the aesthetics of the mural. We discussed this project representing the uplifting of the community and overcoming adversities. I believe this design does just that.
What was your creative vision with the mural?
The mural was to raise the question of the difference between a dove and a pigeon. Though they are usually looked at as two different types of birds they all come from the same family. The crowns above their heads and the hands lifting them into the sky are meant to raise questions and start conversations by the viewers about how to help the community heal and rise above adversity, because we are all different in certain ways but at the end of the day we all want to be happy in life.
Is this mural different than you previous work in other parts of RVA?
I believe all my murals are different from one another. My murals are usually tailored to service the place in which they live.
Does this mural and others like the Light of Human Kindness represent a personal change in the way you view public art?
I definitely think that in the last year I’ve become more convicted in my stance on the messages I convey with my art. And recognize the impact that they can have on just one person or a community.
Why do you think there has been a rise in conscious community art?
In my opinion in the last couple of years Richmond has received a good number of murals, which have brought up questions about their relevance in the city. I think people are realizing the power a piece of art can play in a community, and are looking for more uplifting work.
To check out more of HAM?’s amazing work visit HAM? on Facebook. And to keep up with the very best in Art X Culture X Community – make sure you follow The Cheats Movement.