As we continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, No Kid Hungry is telling the stories of what children faced during the crisis - and the incredible people working to feed them.
We worked with local artists in cities across the country to create murals in their communities. The artists met with local children to hear their thoughts and feelings about life during the pandemic and turned those stories into beautiful public works of art.
The students we spoke to came from different neighborhoods and different backgrounds, but they’ve shared many of the same experiences during COVID - loneliness; boredom; a loss of connection with friends and family; and fears about their parents getting sick or being out of work.
But they also spoke about their hopes for life after the pandemic. It’s those hopes that we’re most eager to share with you.
Hope Is Around the Corner
Desiree Kelly created this mural at 1009 Cass Avenue in Detroit. It shows a smiling little girl surrounded by brilliant colors. (Desiree's own daughter was the model for the girl in the artwork.)
A Detroit native herself, Desiree spoke with local children to help create the piece, and she explained what inspired her: "There was a specific thing one of them said that sparked my idea," she said. "That was 'show COVID going away.'"
"I wanted to show the mind of youth and innocence in the fight against this pandemic crisis; being strong and resilient," she explained.
"I wanted to create something hopeful, to show that rebuilding is near and that hope is around the corner."
What We Want to Be Remembered
Muralist Tenbeete Solomon, also known as Trap Bob, often features hands in her work. For her piece at 2452 18th Street NW in Washington, DC, the two hands coming together act as a symbol of the inspiring sense of unity witnessed throughout the difficulties of the pandemic.
“Public art is really a form of history documentation, what we want to be remembered down the line,” she said.
The colorful mural includes the depiction of a school bus, a nod to the school nutrition staff both in DC and across the country who rallied to feed hungry kids when schools were closed, even delivering meals directly to students’ doorsteps.
“I really want to make sure we’re commemorating and highlighting those people,” Solomon said of cafeteria staff and other frontline workers who stepped up to keep the country going.
But rebuilding from this crisis and getting hungry kids the food they need is going to take all of us. As the mural states: “Facing the future, together.”
You can see more of Solomon’s work on her website.
A Guide Back to Normality
In Los Angeles, Steve Martinez created a strikingly modern work of art, with realistic images of children paired with a huge, attention-grabbing crane. The piece appears at 2627 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica.
Like George Baker in Atlanta, Steve heard the children in Los Angeles describing their feelings of boredom, isolation and longing for connection and freedom, so he chose to depict them running and playing on a bright summer day. And the crane?
"The crane is overlooking the kids, almost as a guide back to normality." Steve explained. "In many cultures cranes are a symbol of happiness, longevity and good fortune. In some areas they are even said to be mystical, magical or holy creatures."
"The crane is a sign of good luck and good things to come," he said. "The crane is identified with the renewal of the body, mind and spirit. Which I think is a perfect fit: kids being happy again and living long healthy lives with good positive things to come for them in the future."
Growth Out of the Pandemic
John P. Dessereau, who painted this mural at New York City's Citi Field, spoke to kids in Queens about the past year. "They want to emerge from the darkness of the pandemic," he said.
John, who creates art under the name Johnsville, incorporated the visual of the Queensboro bridge after hearing from kids: "They see the bridge as a powerful metaphor for coming out of these dark times.”
In addition to depicting a mother cradling her child, images of children and nutritious food, John included an ambulance as an homage to the frontline workers who worked tirelessly when New York was facing the brunt of the pandemic. He also included several references to the New York Mets and Citi Field (Citi is the presenting sponsor of the No Kid Hungry campaign).
"Pete Alonso is busting out of Citi Field, surrounded by flowers that symbolize growth out of the pandemic," John explained.
Inspired by Atlanta's Children
Created by George F. Baker III, this mural appears in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward at 486 Edgewood Avenue SE. George’s mural is a bright, playful piece centered on the idea of connection.
“After listening to all of the youth, my main takeaway was their want and need for human connection,” he said. “This also relates to a more general need we all feel - the need to be understood and close to others.”