For a long time street art and graffiti were looked at by city officials as vandalism, and were not often associated with regenerating a community. Few governments actually commissions street art, but one of the world’s largest murals in the notorious Palmitas district in Mexico was initiated by the local municipality.
The macro mural covers 20 000 square metres, across 209 houses, and was commissioned by the Las Palmitas Pachuca District municipality, which oversees the area widely recognised as Mexico’s drug capital in the state of Sinaloa.
The project was undertaken by a youth organisation that go by the moniker Germen Crew, who use various forms of interaction to create social awareness and boost the morale of communities that are notoriously lawless and impoverished. They do this through re-introducing traditional values through art.
Our work is an artistic offering to our cities because with colours, shapes, textures and mixed techniques we share our way of doing and understanding art, we seek to detonate the seed as a possible way to strengthen the heart and enthusiasm of those who live in the places where we intervene,” say Germen Crew members.
The massive street art project covers the homes of hundreds of families, turning them into one massive rainbow, a commonly recognised symbol of hope. The painting work took five months to complete with the crew of ten and the help of members of the community, who initially were skeptical of the how the project would positively impact the crime and poverty levels.
However, after weeks of consultation, German Crew nurtured a trusting relationship with residents who eventually agreed to take on the mural as a symbolic way to paint over the communities disturbing legacy of poverty, violence and drugs. The crew convinced residents that the mural would bring a renewed charisma to the area that would encourage visitors and a potentially create a tourism industry that could generate employment. The Germen Crew designed the mural to have a high visual impact, especially when viewed from a distance, and used bright colours and the highest quality paint to prevent fading and deterioration.
The painting of the mural accomplishes the aim of German Crew’s work: “understanding public art and using it as a tool for social change and personal transformation, is capable of promoting human dialogue in the most inhospitable places.”
Since the beginning of the project crime in the area has dropped significantly and the community’s employment levels have increased, proving how well-executed art installations can create a sense of pride in residents that promotes a healthy urban community environment.