Urban beautification and renewal projects are probably more likely to be removing graffiti than adding it, but that hasn’t been the case in a district of Pachuca, capital city of the state of Hidalgo.
A dull and dreary looking hillside in Palmitas has been transformed into a celebration of color in a project that also had social transformation as a goal.
Local authorities not only wanted to give the neighborhood a new look but a new lease on life as well: youth crime and violence were common and a source of alarm to residents.
So an organization of young muralists and graffiti artists, Germen Nuevo Muralismo Mexicano, was invited to bring its talents to bear and work with the community to transform the face of the neighborhood, one that consisted of plain cement or brick surfaces.
Over the course of seven months they created a “macro mural,” painting 209 homes, representing a surface area of 20,000 square meters, first with an undercoat of white and then the application of a riot of color.
The result is not just a new façade but, according to residents, a reduction in crime, some going as far as to say that violence among youths has been eradicated, and that several jobs were created in the process.
One of the artists has declared Palmitas as the first “barrio mágico,” or “magical neighborhood,” in the country, a play on the “magical town” designation awarded to more than 80 communities across the country as a tourist promotion.
The Germen Crew, as the murals organization is also known, was founded in 2012 to revitalize public spaces and encourage new forms of murals to “regenerate the torn social fabric.”
Its members consist of experienced graffiti and mural artists, social researchers and audiovisual documentarians, according to the organization’s Facebook page.