I am continually surprised and delighted to work with diverse groups of people on outdoor collaborative mural projects. My most recent project, taking place in Oakland, CA, expanded my understandings of creativity, the arts, and self expression immensely. The project was an inclusive and exciting collaboration between three entities: Creative Growth Arts Center, method cleaning supplies, and myself! With full support and sponsorship from method, I went to Creative Growth's beautiful space to teach a half-day mural workshop with several of their artists.
The day began with a presentation on the history of mural making and human beings painting their surroundings, with a focus on contemporary urban art. We brainstormed ideas, themes and styles, and talked about other murals and street art they have seen around the city. I then lead the group through several mural design activities. From our conversations and sketches that day I then created a mural design that is meant to show the collaborative effort from all three entities involved with the project. We decided to focus the design toward abstraction, with bright colors, lots of movement, and a graspable balance of dualities.
The project strengthened my belief that creativity is inherently human and cannot be confined by any perceived or recognized limitations. Creative Growth Art Center is a nonprofit that serves artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities, providing a professional studio environment for artistic development, gallery exhibition and representation and a social atmosphere among peers. The experience of working with this group was wonderful! As an anthropologist I am endlessly curious of how culture, history, environment, and personal experience inform our creative pursuits. The artists from Creative Growth were not only talented, but brought a sense of pure joy and playfulness to the project; something that I feel can be so easily lost in the professional art world.
Creative Growth and method had an already existing partnership, where four artists produced original work for a limited edition run of method cleaning supplies. This cross-industry collaboration surprised and delighted me. After I was brought into the mix to bring my collaborative mural making experience, this collection of diverse people from different places was exciting. Creative Growth has been doing their incredible work for decades now, and method has been actively reaching far beyond their own industry of environmentally conscious cleaning products. These two inspiring stories resonated greatly with me, and as a whole, our values were incredibly aligned. I believe that is visually represented in the mural we created, the memories we made, and hopefully that will be felt by those who see the mural!
Emotion, connection, and energy - these are the conceptual elements that have emerged from the workshop, conversations, and experiences between the artists at Creative Growth, Strider Patton, and our friends at method. From these interactions, Strider has created a mural design that is meant to tell a story, evoke feeling, and to give back to the surrounding community. Purposefully staying away from any figurative imagery, the mural is an example of contemporary abstract urban art.
The story is of the project in itself, a visual narrative of what artistic collaboration looks like when perceived barriers are overcome. The skill, joy, and passion of the artists at Creative Growth began this collaboration. Creativity comes in as many forms as there are colors, as anyone who has stepped into Creative Growth quickly understands. As a collaborative muralist, Strider immediately recognized the potential for a most unique project with these talented artists. He held a half day mural workshop with participants at Creative Growth, and from their shared experience, a mural concept began to grow. Connecting elements from Creative Growth artists with elements of Strider’s own artistic style, the mural design weaves together bright colors and layered patterns into a spanning composition.
There is a sense of energy and connection from Strider’s signature flow design, with thick black lines rolling across the wall, leading the observer’s eye over its surface with a sense of powerful movement. Vibrant colors, introduced from palettes used by Creative Growth artists, and method's bold branding, are meant to instill contemplative emotion and feeling. And coming from both Creative Growth artists and Strider, the use of repetitive patterns flourish within the design, upholding a balance of true collaboration.
Continuing with method’s tradition of designing for good, It is with great hope that the mural will brighten the surrounding community, to invite observers to pause and reflect, and to stand as a visual representation of what people can do when they work together, from all parts of society. Form and color have a powerful way to remind us of what is good in the world, of what is possible, and of our own shared humanity.