When I see a new mural for the first
time, I get excited because I always think mural means someone cares. That’s the,
like, the direct correlation that I make. Someone cares. We’re here in Detroit for
another TAG story. As you know, TAG is the NBC Left Field series that brings
you stories about amazing people doing incredible things in their community. And
this week we came across the Detroit Mural Project and its founder, Viranel.
He’s been working to document every single mural in the Detroit area.
Photographed over 1,000 pieces in the past year. Started documenting them
and sharing it so people could explore it themselves, also as a way to educate the
youth. They’re organized based on the artist that made it, the location of the
city that it’s in, and what year it was made and who commissioned it.
There’s a disconnect between a new Detroit and the old Detroit, and for a while
it was a lot of people coming in and just seeing sort of a blank canvas that they
could come into. This website shows that definitely it’s not, we have work that
dates back to the 70s. The feeling to see my work on the website is astonishing, to
say the least. It’s not every day that you get to see something and then not see it again, so instantly, as a mural. I haven’t seen
anybody in Detroit to document street art in a way, an art form, such as
Viranel has done himself. Right now it’s just me, I don’t have anyone helping
me. The first year I started this project, I put 55,000 miles on my
car in a year and a half, just driving back and forth. Any lead that I get, like,
“Oh, there’s this mural in this neighborhood,” I don’t know where, I’m just going to drive up
and down every single street until I find it. I wake up at 5:00 a.m. sometimes,
and I try to Uber drive, tell people that are in my car about this project that
I’m doing and also scout for new murals at the same time. When going to the
mural I usually get the front-on angle. I try to consider whether or not people
would actually come out and see this mural themselves, or if their online
interaction with it would be the only one. I want to give them thorough
understanding of it. While filming, we ran into Mary and her family, a Detroit
native who now lives in Washington state. You know my piece of paper, I printed out the
mural? They’re doing a story on that website! No way!
This site is fabulous, I was so happy I found it. They could be gone at any time,
where someone could tag them. Thank you for putting it all in one spot with the
addresses. It’s not just me shooting a mural, it’s me taking note of what’s
happening in that community, chatting with everyone that I meet. Doesn’t matter
if you’re like a resident, doesn’t matter if you’re a cop, if you’re around when
I’m doing this, I’m going to chat with you and let you know what I’m doing, and
let you know how it benefits you. It’s all tied into making Detroit a strong
community. It’s, it’s bigger than just art, it’s bigger than just archiving.
The city’s changing very, very rapidly, you don’t know what building’s gonna be
knocked down in two months. Documenting every single mural in the city is very
difficult, but if I don’t do it, then who will?