The Harrison Hotel, a residence for the formerly homeless, in Downtown Oakland, marked the site of collaboration and community building between students and residents for a mural series. Celebrating the residents’ personal stories, the seven murals show the value of public art by weaving together urban architecture, landscape, and language.
Under Muralist, Eduardo Pineda’s instruction “Harrison Hotel” students gained valuable experience in the role of art making to strengthen community relationships by co-creating 7 murals. Informed by his experience in the Community Mural Movement, Pineda placed particular emphasis on the process of making a community art piece. ENGAGE students were asked students to learn about the complexities of the community ecology and cultivate trusting relationships through volunteering and working with the Harrison Hotel residents on mural designs. At each stage in development, “Harrison Hotel” collaborated with community organizations so that the final piece would give voice to the questions or issues that concerned each particular community group.
“Harrison Hotel” resulted in seven murals exhibited along Jefferson and 12th Street in Downtown Oakland aptly titled “Building Community.” These murals showcase the residents’ personal stories as metaphors that weave together urban architecture, landscape, and language as a connection to the greater Oakland community. A collaborative effort on many levels, “Building Community” represents the efforts of residents, local nonprofit organizations and businesses to develop community ties.