Using the 240 cans of spray paint purchased for last spring’s annual Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival before the event was cancelled due to COVID-19, Trinity students decided to help leave a positive mark on the Hartford community this summer.
Students in the Trinity Chapter of the Temple of Hip Hop, which runs the festival, have organized the creation of murals around Hartford. So far, large and colorful images have been painted on a wall on Broad Street and on the delivery truck of a grocery business on Zion Street, with more in the works.
Adyanna Odom ’23, of Houston, Texas, and Renita Washington ’22, of Chicago, Illinois, are the Temple of Hip Hop co-organizers and co-Youth4Change chairs who helped coordinate the projects. “Since a community mural was already a part of the festival, we figured we could still do that, but expand on it,” Odom said.
Washington added, “These murals are a continuation of the same appreciation for the art of graffiti that’s featured in the festival.”
In addition to providing the cans of spray paint, the Temple of Hip Hop coordinated funding for the local graffiti artists and secured mural locations through community partners. Odom said that Associate Professor of History and International Studies Seth Markle, the Temple of Hip Hop faculty advisor, reached out to graffiti artist Lindaluz Carrillo—a community partner for the festival’s graffiti programming—to ask about creating some murals over the summer.
“Lindaluz then visited a few bodegas and asked if they wanted a mural, free of charge,” Odom said. “Once they identified the spots, the murder of George Floyd happened, and the protests followed. From there, we decided to give the murals more focus by creating them in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, so all murals have a message of some kind that speaks to current political moment.”
The mural on Broad Street features the words, “Hoy Miro Hacia El Futuro (I Look to the Future),” quoting Puerto Rican-American salsa singer and songwriter Frankie Ruiz, while one side of the delivery truck for Comerio Grocery on Zion Street reads, “One Love.”
The artists who created the murals are all local community members and professional graffiti artists. The mural on Broad Street is by Carrillo (@aiir.is on Instagram), Mina Elise (@minaelise on Instagram), and Randi. The mural on the Comerio Grocery truck is by Carrillo, Massey (@mrmassey860 on Instagram), and Fernando Garcia (@nandos.art on Instagram). The creation of the truck mural was featured on NBC Connecticut.
Financial support to pay the artists was provided by donations from Trinity’s International Studies Program, Studio Arts Program, Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS), History Department, Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, and American Studies Department. The students’ goals for the project included getting local artists paid for their creative work during the pandemic, beautifying the physical landscape of the city, and raising community awareness about social justice issues.
“As you look at our murals, you see messages like ‘one love’ and ‘look to the future’ because we want to inspire the community to come together and have hope for what’s to come every time they pass by one of our murals,” Odom said.
Washington added that the project is one way that Trinity and its students can show support for the city of Hartford and strengthen ties with people in the community. “As students at Trinity, Hartford serves as a second home for us while on campus and it only makes sense to give back to a community that has been a home to Trinity students for so long,” she said. “As the country simultaneously battles the coronavirus and rising social justice issues, we must come together to support each other in whatever ways we can.”
See more photos in the gallery below.