Thanks to the Moran Norris Foundation and artist Fernando Romero, dozens of HISD elementary students had a chance to create new murals at their schools in early September.
Wearing face masks, the students learned how to apply spray paint under the direction of Romero, a former graffiti artist from New York City, and Moran Norris, a retired NFL player who enjoys giving back to his community. Moran and his wife Tamara established their foundation to help students succeed.
“I want to use my experiences and background to leave a lasting impact on youth in the Houston area, so they can pursue and achieve their dreams,” said Moran.
“The foundation allows Moran and me to contribute and give back to the Houston community that has provided us with so much love, support, and encourage,” Tamara added.
Garden Villas, Gregg, Hobby, and Montgomery elementary schools were chosen by Norris and Tamara because they are dear to their hearts. Moran attended Montgomery Elementary, Dowling Middle, and Madison High School, while Tamara went to Mading Elementary, Hartman Middle, and Jones High School. They chose elementary schools in their high school feeder patterns.
“This mural is about creating and playing, which is what kids like to do,” said Romero about the one at Gregg Elementary. “You can see students playing with a football on one side and two kids creating a mural on the other. I wrote all their names on the wall, so that every time they walk into the school, they will feel a sense of ownership and pride.”
Romero is a well-known New York graffiti artist who teamed up with partner Mike Baca to form the creative collective, “UR New York.” Both artists spent many years illegally painting New York City walls and subways, getting in trouble multiple times before they decided to turn their lives around. Since they founded UR New York in 2011, they have organized more than 50 events related to graffiti and street art. Their frequent community service includes not just helping young artists create murals, but giving motivational talks to students.
Romero and Baca’s technique incorporates photography, screen printing, spray painting, and other materials to create paintings that convey the energy, rawness, and drama of New York City. Their expressive paintings incorporate images of Manhattan, including bridges, skyscrapers, street life, signs, and tagging. To see a short film of their paintings, visit this link.
Other recent Moran Norris Foundation-HISD collaborations include giving away backpacks to Madison High School freshmen last month and taking 150 students from six HISD middle schools on a shopping spree at Target in May.