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Art can encapsulate the times. No matter the colors used, it is evergreen – if accepted.
Murals are especially capable of forever instilling a message in a community, and international artist Kyle Holbrook uses his talents to inspire change. The muralist unveiled a new piece in Albuquerque on Wednesday to bring awareness to gun violence.
“We’re so inundated as a society and in some communities. There’s a shooting, sometimes more than one that day. … It’s an epidemic we’re in,” Holbrook told the Journal.
Holbrook is currently crafting contemporary street murals in all 50 states during his Gun Violence Awareness National Tour. He said the feat is symbolic because of how prevalent the issue has become in America, and explained the message focuses on anti-gun violence, not anti-guns.
“I’m not trying to take away any right,” he said, “but bring awareness to the human element of gun violence.”
The artist has already left his mark in 42 states and in 43 countries over the course of his career. Raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Holbrook knows tragedy all too well, having lost 46 friends and family members to gun violence.
Holbrook said of the negative trend surrounding the issue, “I think that there’s been a regression. There was progress, but … there’s been something that’s happened since the pandemic.”
His past shaped his character and influenced him to support youth in communities. He founded the MLK Community Mural project in 2002, which has not only brought cognizance to issues and better futures through art, but also has provided mentorships and employment opportunities.
The 10-foot by 4-foot mural in Albuquerque can be seen at 3909 Central NE – in the alleyway behind Studio Blue – placed among the cluster of street art that consumes the lot. “Peace Albuquerque” is aesthetically simplistic. The iconic peace hand gesture is large against the concrete blocks complemented by the famed peace symbol centered in a Zia. However, the message is the main focus. Holbrook encourages locals to take selfies with the mural and share them on social media, saying even small actions like that can help others grasp the message.
Amid the recent fatal shootings of four Muslim men that garnered national attention and nearly 70 shooting deaths that have haunted the metro area thus far in 2022, the aura surrounding the art is one of heightened sensitivity.
“I’m aware of what’s been going on. … I’ve been following the news,” Holbrook said of Albuquerque. “This is going on everywhere. … We wanted to be in cities that, unfortunately, have a need for this message.”
Holbrook explained that he and his team did their research on Albuquerque and selected a visible location to place the mural, which was painted Saturday.
“It’s going to be visible as people are going throughout their day, and, in that way, it can be more impactful,” Holbrook said about the lasting impression of his mural in comparison to other mediums.
Like his art, Holbrook hopes his message is just as evergreen – if received.