As project manager over design teams and on-site logistics, Brandon Hawkins, a 2008 African American Studies grad with a certificate in fine arts from DAAP, wanted everyone to have equal opportunity to express themselves about their individual designs but was careful to make sure the mural's visual content was uniform.
"Since no one has ever done this in any other city, I felt we should create the mural in Pan-African colors that all Black folks can relate to, which defines red as representing the noble blood that unites all people of African ancestry, the color black for the people and green for the rich land of Africa," says Hawkins, also co-owner and lead teaching artist of Soul Palette. "From a distance, viewers will see one color flowing into the other with only slight accents but won't really see the detail until they get closer and the unique details and accents come into view."
Art is a visual catalyst to get the mind thinking, but he says it needs to go farther than that. This mural, and art in general, is really about starting conversations.
"If you can get a person to walk up to this mural or a work of art and a conversation happens, then in that conversation the fear of the unknown can begin to break down," says Hawkins. "These conversations are where the stereotypes, prejudices and assumptions about people you don't know begin to stop — where people start to understand each other and stop being in fear of the other, and that's really what this whole movement is all about.
"We want to get folks to open up to one another and to realize that 'what I want is what you want,' and here, we're doing this through art."