Visualize a rainbow spanning across your hometown; now imagine your town is actually a rainbow. The low-income neighborhood of Las Palmitas in Pachuca, Mexico was recently transformed into a vibrant rainbow thanks to a youth organization of muralists and street artists called Germen Crew. The colorful project now connects the community of more than 200 homes.
In what organizers call Mexico’s largest mural, hundreds of homes in the Palmitas neighborhood were painted in bright colors as part of a city government-sponsored project, Pachuca Paints Itself. To bring the working-class community together and rehabilitate the area’s gritty image, authorities allowed Germen Crew artists to individually paint the façades of shops and residences winding throughout the hillside village. Working with locals, some of which were gang members, the brick walls were first painted stark white to neutralize the canvas and symbolize that all residents are equal before saturating them with various rainbow hues like those found in a bag of Skittles.
Wandering through the narrow, steep streets reveals a closer take on the full range of multicolored tones, while witnessing the tightly-packed buildings from a distance unveils an even more fluid composition. The exteriors are united as one cohesive, abstract design covering about 20,000 square meters in one impressive piece now known as “El Macro Mural Barrio de Palmitas”. Stripes starting on one wall end up sweeping gracefully across several homes, which seems to be an homage to Pachuca’s nickname, “la bella airosa,” which is a Spanish phrase that roughly translates to “the beautiful, breezy city.”
By bringing art to people’s homes, the community project has altered the character of the central Mexico city, in which the exterior now matches the lively personalities and culture of its inhabitants. The project’s construction helped create jobs and reduce youth violence, and even instilled more community spirit. Residents are interacting with each other more and even taking the security of their neighborhood into their own hands to change the negative image. The artist collective hopes the colorful creation will continue to inspire young people to use art as a means of self-expression instead of violence.
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