By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, M.Ed.
Houston- “I was that little kid who always loved to draw and just really never grew up,” expressed Reginald Adams. Over the past 20 years of being in Houston, most of Adam’s creative work has been around public art murals, sculptures, and art installations. He has facilitated the design, coordination and production of over 200 public art projects and sacred spaces across the Houston area and abroad. The different projects have been co-created with the involvement of over 30,000 area youth volunteers, 100’s of artist and thousands of community stakeholders. His work is unique because of his desire in engaging the public in the creation of these projects.
“My inspiration comes from people and the location of the work itself.” As a young child, Adams traveled a lot with his family, which exposed him to culture diversity at a very young age. He remembered being around a lot of different kind of people ethnically, socially, economically and graphically. “I could appreciate from a young age culture diversity, and as I got older and realized how my art could be influenced by cultures different than my own, I actually began studying and pursing experiences that will allow me to broaden my perspective around culture.” Adams has had the opportunity to travel to thirty different countries studying public art, and with each trip, it inspired his work in a way that he could bring back a piece of that culture and incorporate it into the work that he does in Houston.
With twenty years under his belt with engaging the public in the creation of public art, it was no surprise that Adams was asked by the Super Bowl committee to design four murals in four different communities; Cuney Homes Apartments, The Breakfast Klub, Capitol Tower, and The Beulah Shepard Library. When Council member Amanda Edwards shared her vision for the project, Adams was ecstatic because she wanted the community to be involved with each of the murals, and part of the reason why he loves what he does is because he loves working with different people. “It wasn’t about painting murals about football…or the Super Bowl…it was really about giving the community a voice.” Adams defines art as anything you can get away with. “I don’t think you can put art in a box. I think art is any type of creative expression,” expressed Adams.
So why were the murals created? Adams quoted Mayor Turner stating, “All of Houston should benefit from the Super Bowl,” which is one of the main reasons for the creation of the projects. “When you think about the Super Bowl, you think about the NRG Stadium, the bars, the restaurants, the hotels, and all of the social entertainment places that people will venture into as they come to Houston…because of the size of Houston, some of the communities will not benefit from it…they don’t get the same kind of love and attention.” Adams expressed further how the city of Houston is putting its best face on for these guests that are coming in town. The connection was to make sure that we were not only putting our face on for the tourist attracts of Houston, but also for the community organizations and spaces that will like to benefit from the Super Bowl taking place in the city.
Each mural is uniquely different in its character and theme, and the people who helped design and paint it. However, each mural has a theme of empowerment, which is being the best you can be in your own different way. The mural at the Cuney Homes is titled “I am Empowerment”, and the kids of the community were able to brainstorm around the prompt, “What does it mean to be empowered, and what is empowerment?” The mural at The Breakfast Klub highlighted great athletes that have come from Houston and is titled “The Heart of a Champion”. It is a reflection of what it takes to become the best at what you do. The mural downtown at the Capitol Tower is titled “The Tree of Life.” This mural is about the future, optimism, and hope. The last mural at the Beulah Shepard Library is titled “Read,” and is centered on reading. Promoting reading was the best theme for this mural because “with the source of reading comes knowledge, and often times knowledge becomes a great neutralizer to help us move on from the places we may not want to be in our lives.” For this mural, Adams and his team also tapped into the essence of Acres Homes to pay homage to the matriarchal leadership that has been a cornerstone in the Acres Homes community.
When people look at these murals, Adams wants people to take away a sense of love, appreciation, and joy. He would like these murals to put a smile on people’s face. “When you see each painting, they each have so much to look at. No one person is going to see the exact same thing.” He is hoping that they take something positive from each one. Adams would like to acknowledge and thank the Houston Super Bowl Committee, Council Member Amanda Edwards, Mayor Turner, and all of the artist, students, and community members that helped make this artistic journey a reality. For more information about Reginald Adams and his work, you can view his website at http://www.reginaldadams.com/.