If there’s one thing that’s true about street art, it’s that it’s getting bigger. Sometimes that means it’s getting more recognition, being displayed in more and more places, or the artists themselves are enjoying more and more attention, and hopefully compensation, for their work. But if you’re in Pachuca, Mexico, when you say that street art’s getting bigger, you’re probably referring to size over anything else.
The reason that you’d immediately think of a big, sizeable mural over the recognition or traction street art is gaining is probably because you’ve walked by the neighbourhood of Palmitas. This neighbourhood, just like the many colourful residential neighbourhoods, has plenty of fun houses made with different hues and tones, but there’s a key difference: Palmitas wasn’t the result of cheap paint or building supplies, it was done by professional muralists and local people through a government grant.
Palmitas, like many places in Mexico, is a nice neighbourhood that needing some sprucing up. The area was suffering in many different ways, from street violence and poverty to larger issues like unemployment and a lack of funds for neighbourhood problems. So the Mexican government decided to intervene and help out the neighbourhood. In the process, they managed to land the little place on the world stage.
Starting out as a grant, the Mexican government envisioned a mural project that could improve the area. The goal of the project, however, was not just to beautify the area, but to give it a facelift in all areas, and to give the people something to be proud of. For expert advice and project leaders, the government turned to the German collective, a group of designers and artists who set about planning the project.
Once it was down on paper, the project was massive. Over 20,000 square feet of walls needed to be painted, stretching across over 200 homes in the neighbourhood, all of which were settled up a small hill above a main road. Bright colours were chosen for the mural, with bold patterns that could be easily painted across the facades. With such a large project, the German collective couldn’t do it themselves, so they enlisted the help of locals, giving them work to do in the year that the project took to be completed.
The project was a resounding success. According to Street Art News, the the project brought immediate results, improving the lives of many of the residents pretty much from the seond paint hit the walls. “On top of beautifying the neighbourhood, the project has been a tool of social transformation,” the magazine reported, “During the process, the violence amongst younger people has been entirely eradicated and several jobs created.” While there may have been only 209 houses filled with 452 families, the results were felt by a much larger amount of people, starting the the town of Pachuca and rippling out across the world.