“UICA Outside” Mural Brings Navajo Culture to Creston Neighborhood

Colby Roanhorse in front of his mural in the Creston neighborhood.
Colby Roanhorse in front of his mural in the Creston neighborhood.

Colby Roanhorse said he wanted to leave a “permanent trace on Grand Rapids,” and after participating in the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art’s “UICA Outside,” public arts initiative, he hasn’t left just a trace—he’s left a narrative.

“I’m from the Southwest and was born on the Navajo Reservation,” said Roanhorse. “The imagery comes from Navajo Gods and stories, the sun god being primary. The piece is [also] inspired by microscopic fungi in the forest that keep development stable.”

You can find his mural in the Creston neighborhood, on the Childress and Associates Realty building. Measuring 25-feet by 40-feet, Roanhorse’s work celebrates his Native American identity, which is intertwined with contemporary ideas of sustainable and equitable development.

This mural is part of the “UICA Outside” series and works in tandem with the mission of ArtPrize: making art more accessible to the local population. It has also broadened the scope, allowing local community groups to participate.

This is Roanhorse’s third year as a participant in ArtPrize. This year was a bit different in that he took on the role of a project manager instead of being the sole artist. The project took five weeks with the contributions of friends and neighbors.

“Each year has pushed me to do bigger work than the year before,” he said. “It was different than I expected because I expected to do much of the work on my own, but a project of this scale required much help because of the sheer size of the space.”

This mural is a permanent piece at 1365 Plainfield Ave NE. To learn more about the “UICA Outside” program stop by the UICA building downtown or visit the website.

*Photo courtesy of Colby Roanhorse

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