HISD student artists win second annual Truck Art Contest, artwork displayed on city trucks

On May 7, the City of Houston unveiled four Solid Waste Management vehicles adorned with the artwork of four talented HISD students. The artists are the winners of the second annual Truck Art Contest, a competition devised and executed by HISD’s Energy and Sustainability Department in partnership with the City of Houston’s Solid Waste Management Department to increase awareness of recycling and waste diversion in the city’s youth.

The trucks were unveiled at City Hall following an announcement of the winners during a Houston City Council meeting where the young artists met Mayor John Whitmire and were presented with framed prints of their artwork. One winner was named in the categories of elementary, middle, and high school, and Special Education.

“If students don’t know the importance of recycling, then future generations are doomed,” said DeBakey High School Junior and winning artist Cynthia Zhou. “If you want to improve the future of the environment, then you have to educate the generation that comes before.”

Zhou’s piece “Hands of Glory” is a unique take on the well-known recycling logo designed in 1970 by Gary Anderson, which is made up of three arrows representing the closed loop of the recycling process. Zhou replaced the arrows with arms and hands to highlight the importance of individual human involvement in recycling and conservation.

In its second year, the Truck Art Contest garnered more submissions as well as more interest from sponsors who were able to help provide $100 gift cards for each winner.

“The youth are the future, and for us, outreach is a key component to a successful waste diversion program,” said Solid Waste Management Director Mark Wilfalk. “What better way to enhance our outreach while educating others about the importance of waste reduction and recycling? We have so many students throughout the city, and we really want to take advantage of that synergy and build that partnership.”

In the future, Wilfalk hopes that the program will grow with more sponsors and supporters, and that future contests may include a writing component.

2024 Truck Art Contest winners:

Special Education Winner
Jose Najera, 6th grade
Pin Oak Middle School
“Save Our Only Home”

Elementary School Winner
Baraka Farooq, 3rd grade
“Little Steps Make Big Step:
T.H. Rogers School

Middle School Winner
Yin Ho Jalen Wan, 8th grade
“Doing Our Part for Planet Earth:
Mandarin Immersion Magnet School

High School Winner
Cynthia Zhou, 11th grade
“Hands of Glory”
Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professionals