Traveling down Airline Drive, the Aldine Branch Library is easy to spot. The branch has had a prominent mural on the side of the building facing the street since 2002, a mosaic depicting a happy parade of people. The mural artwork was a collaboration between Reginald Adams and students from Stovall Middle School and was made possible by Commissioner El Franco Lee, the Museum of Cultural Arts Houston, and the Greater Greenspoint District. It stands out, bright and colorful, beneath the words “Harris County Public Library Aldine Branch”.
If you stop by the Aldine Library today, you’ll notice new artwork on display! The mural is called Spreading Knowledge and it is part of the North Houston District’s public art program in collaboration with UpArt Studio. The mural prominently features the word "Knowledge" written in white. The word is surround by abstract shapes in bright neon colors. The vibrant art is flowing out of an open book on the left. And the wall can't contain the mural! It spreads down the steps and onto the walkway. The art is meant for everyone, but especially the students of the three schools near the library on Airline: Bussey Elementary, Intermediate, and Aldine High School. The theme comes from the Harris County Public Library’s slogan: Your Pathway to Knowledge.
The artist who painted the mural goes by DUAL and prefers to be anonymous. Visit his website to see more of his work and visit UpArt Studio's interactive page that allows you to tour murals around Houston from the comfort of your own home. Watch this video which features DUAL and the manager at Aldine Branch Library, Carl Smith, talking about the mural and read quotes from the video below.
Carl: "When we saw this final design we were really, really excited to see the word 'knowledge' because 'Your Pathway to Knowledge' is the slogan actually for our library system. So that caught both myself and my boss, who was on the selection committee for the library, caught our attention right way. The background is very artsy and very colorful. We felt like it was a great enhancement for the Aldine Library. We were so happy that the North Houston District was willing to partner with us on this to give back to the community. And the library is such a key part of this community here. We're really the backbone of a lot of the area here. And so just to be able to provide something beautiful and positive after all that we've gone through was a really awesome thing. And so we were so happy to be selected as the location."
DUAL: "I'm a huge believer that art and murals like this benefit the community massively, especially underprivileged communities that don't really have the opportunity and don't always get these type of things that pop up in their neighborhoods. So to me it's just huge because I can guarantee that a child, somebody, is going to see this and in their mind their going to think 'I want to do that. I want to make that' or 'I want to do that better or bigger' and to me that's the whole purpose of art, you know? I know that something like that happens, it's mission accomplished. Like, the feeling of community members saying they appreciate it coming from all different races, ages, that's just a magical moment."
Spreading Knowledge is also interactive! Scanning the QR code on the perpendicular wall to the right of the mural with a smartphone launches this website that creates an Augmented Reality (AR) environment. Choose either Facebook or Instagram, and hold the smartphone up to the mural to activate the experience. The augmented reality which was developed by Dream Syndicate, "refers to any technology that inserts digital interfaces... and adds to the real world..." Any player of the popular game Pokémon Go will be familiar with the technology, which adds Pokémon to the real world. Instagram or Snapchat filters that change or add to our faces are also a type of AR. In this case, the technology changes the artwork of the mural and makes it come alive. Visit the Aldine Branch Library to get the full AR experience. See a sneak peek below.
To learn more about AR, search our website or click on the covers of the books below.
To find out more about the history of the Harris County Public Library and to see lots of cool pictures of the libraries and their artwork, check out the Harris County Public Library Digital Archive.
Cover Image by Janny Tram, Adult Program Specialist at Aldine Branch Library
Augmented Reality Image by Heidi Carias, Library Program Specialist at Aldine Branch Library