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Outdoor Murals in Detroit

These eight murals add beauty to buildings, windows and walls around the city. Take a peek at them – and learn the stories behind each one.

You don't have to be confined inside the walls of a museum to see beautiful artwork in the city of Detroit. Today, you can just step outside for a quick run and come across a vibrant exhibit. These masterful portfolios can be seen all around Detroit splashed on buildings—vacant or occupied—walls and even windows. Some graffiti pieces or murals were created to make a statement or inspire, and others were made just to beautify our city.

Check out these amazing murals we found and uncover the meanings behind them.

 

The colors of our great nation's flag come together to create a portrait of President Barack Obama. This mural by Halima Cassell of Detroit Mural Factory, located on the south wall of Eric's I've Been Framed at 16527 Livernois Ave., is definitely a political statement. It was painted during President Barack Obama's campaign with the phrase "Yes We Can" and later changed to "Yes We Did" once Obama was elected. Eric Vaughn, owner of the store, says he wanted to do something to support Obama then later celebrate his victory.

 

If you stare at this mural long enough you can almost hear birds chirping and the sound of school children laughing—music to our ears. This mural, painted by Lake Orion native Katie Yamasaki in 2011, is located on the south wall of a building on the southeast corner of Second and Brainard streets. Yamasaki says she painted the mural for her friends at Boggs Educational Center to support their movement.

"Outside of their movement, I also believe that it is important for children to grow up seeing themselves positively portrayed in the world that surrounds them. Too often kids, in particularly children of color, only see other kids who look like them portrayed in advertisements that are trying to sell them something or in visual media that minimizes them to a stereotype," says Yamasaki.

"There is a power in a still image because it allows the viewer to let their imagination tell the story of the child and choose which ways, if any, they identify with the image."

 

This mural is just plain weird, right? Well it's another public art installation at Eastern Market done by The Weird, a group of German and Austrian artists. It was spearheaded by Inner State Gallery and 1xRun—some of the people responsible for the many Eastern Market murals. This mural shows the Weird's interpretation of the city as a whole—including people and places they saw. We aren't sure who took these guys around Detroit, because we've never seen anything like this before in the city, but you have to admit it's a fascinating interpretation.

 

Photo by Philip Lauri

The "We Kahn Do It!" mural may look pretty simple, but it has a strong positive message. The mural, which was painted by DetroitLives!, is in reference to architect Albert Kahn. According to Philip Lauri, the creative director at DetroitLives!, Kahn was the foremost American industrial architect of his time because a large number of architect-designed factories were designed by him.

"He's designed countless iconic buildings in Detroit—the Packard Plant, the Fisher Building, the Detroit Athletic Club, the Belle Isle Conservatory, the Detroit News Building, the old GM headquarters, etc.," says Lauri.

So, the mural incorporates some of these buildings – which were "crowing achievements for Kahn."

 

Photo courtesy of Inner State Gallery by Sal Rodriguez

Stop by and smell the flowers. Persue, Inner State Gallery, 1xRun and a group of fifth graders at the Plymouth Educational Center called the Changemakers created this colorful mural. The mural, which is across the street from the educational center was created to promote change in the community. The feeling on spring really comes to life with every stroke. The words "Inspire" and "Grow" are filled with pink, blue and light purple handprints of the Changemakers. The bunny in the middle is Persue's signature character, which is supposed to "further establish that we all can be the change in our community," the creators say.

 

How do Detroiters show their pride? Why a community mural, of course! This mural, by artist Icon, was made the day Detroit declared bankruptcy, according to the Huffington Post. It is located at the Dequindre Cut Greenway, a non-motorized trail that starts at the Detroit River and extends to Gratiot Avenue. The swirls of reds, blues, greens and yellows in each letter is made up of a collection of spray painted names of Detroiters.

On Icon's online portfolio, you'll see the words "Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus," which stands for "We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes." This is considered Detroit's motto, and Father Gabriel Richard, a French Roman Catholic priest, first used the phrase when a fire leveled the city in 1805.

 

Dasic Fernandez, a native of Chile, painted these breathtaking murals on opposite sides of the Hacienda Mexican Foods building located at 6022 W. Vernor Highway. Can you hear the strumming of her guitar or feel the sweat on the workers brow? Fernandez says Victoria Violeta, the image of the woman playing the guitar, created in 2010 during the U.S. Social Forum, was "painted with a technique that for me expressed the vibration of the nature of life."

Her hair is composed of the names of Detroiters and the people he came to Detroit with. Fernandez says most of his work doesn't have a message behind it. In this case, he says the "design is more of an excuse to put colors together and give a positive vibration to the environment, sometimes changing the atmosphere of the places."

When it comes to the Mano de Obra Campesina mural, Fernandez wanted to paint something related to the work that goes into creating the food people consume daily, especially in Mexicantown. 

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