Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project (OSH)

Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project (OSH) is a crucial community development effort led by Amana Harris, Artist and Executive Director of Attitudinal Healing Connection (AHC) in Oakland.  The project will engage 300 youth to be change agents in their community. The goal is to resolve issues that plague our city, create jobs for artists, enhance our neighborhoods and reduce blight. AHC is proud to share the progress of the first large scale mural beautification and revitalization public art project in West Oakland/Emeryville.

Creative Originator: Amana Harris

Amana Harris is a leader in the field of community arts and a well-respected advocate for the arts in k-12 education. Her book, released July of 2012, is entitled Self as Super Hero: Handbook on the Creation of the Life-Size Self-Portrait. It is a testament to her years of experience in arts education, mastery in curriculum development and her belief in the power of art to empower and inspire children, youth and communities.

Amana serves as the Executive Director of the Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc. (AHC), a West Oakland based organization, founded in 1989, whose mission is to empower individuals through art, creativity and education. Under her leadership the organization has received numerous awards for excellence in the arts through education, community engagement and public art. She has dedicated 22 years of her professional life to help build and sustain the organization while creating ArtEsteem. As an award winning program of AHC, ArtEsteem has served as a vital force to creatively galvanize the resources to provide arts integrated curriculum with a focus on social justice and self-development to over 67 at-risk schools and communities since 1995 reaching over 55,000 children, youth and families and through its public artwork impacting millions.

Her art as an artist has been to serve as a conduit to make the arts accessible to the voiceless, the marginalized and the forgotten. Her most notable work includes:

Self as Super Hero: Handbook on the Creation of the Life-Size Self Portrait – an arts integrated curriculum guide for teachers, art educators and parents to engage children, youth and adults in an authentic, investigative and imaginative process. The concepts, tools and recommendations in the book are based on theories and practices gleaned from lessons implemented in schools and community centers over the past 15 years. The curriculum has produced hundreds of innovative and inspiring work by students addressing some of societies greatest concerns and inspires individuals to be change agents understanding that our existence doesn’t unfold in isolation from the fate of others. The book aims to invoke the notion that we are the ones we are waiting for to save ourselves and others and is the ignition for conceptual and final designs of the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project.

The Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, West Oakland and Emeryville’s largest and most historical public mural project which uniquely distinguishes Amana’s abilities to integrate her work as a community activist, artist and educator. This work during a time of gentrification and community unrest provides a vehicle for youth of color to articulate their struggles and fears with hope and imagination for resolution while gaining a stake and increasing cultural capital in a community that is vastly changing demographically. The project encompasses four underpasses which include 7 walls under the 580 freeway from San Pablo Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Way between 35th and 36th streets. Approximately 28,000 square feet of concrete blighted canvas has been approved by Oakland City Council to paint with the mission of cultivating, educating and engaging schools and youth in community issues through the power of public art. The project is in progress while Wall #1 was completed July 2012; and Wall #2 completed February 2014; and Wall #3 completed October 2015. Wall #3 is dedicated to Antonio Ramos who was murdered while peacefully painting the wall alongside a team of lead and assisting artists. The design for Wall #4 is complete, approved by the City of Oakland Public Art Advisory Committee and awaiting approval by Caltrans.

Over 20 years of community based art exhibits showcasing professionally curated youth art and performances. 2018 will mark AHC’s 20th annual ArtEsteem art exhibition entitled, “Reflections of Me and My World”. Each year 10 to 25 schools are engaged to exhibit the untapped and raw artistic talent and voice of Oakland and Bay Area children and youth.

Art Director: David Burke

David Burke is an East Bay native and has participated in over thirty mural projects over the last ten years. He began his graduate studies in Rome, and received his M.F.A. in painting from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 2001. He spent most of the last decade teaching art at Saint Elizabeth High School and then Patten University in Oakland. He has exhibited his work both locally and abroad. Most recently, he was a visiting lecturer in painting at Chiang Mai University in Northern Thailand. David currently lives in Oakland. David’s most recent body of work explores the intersection between the man-made and natural worlds. The paintings illustrate man’s complex and often convoluted relationship to nature and depict instances in which theses forces both compliment one another and collide in destructive ways. These works celebrate man’s desire to build, innovate and create, while acknowledging the fact that our impulse to grow and consume is eroding the ecological framework that we depend on to sustain our wasteful habits.

On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, we suffered a great loss with the killing of muralist Antonio Ramos. The West Street Mural #4 will be dedicated to him.
The work of the students of the Hoover Youth Leadership class is the design inspiration for the fourth Oakland Superheros Mural. The mural addresses some of the deepest concerns in West Oakland relaying concepts by the students who designed superheroes that advocate peace in the community. Students created Super Hero characters, such as “Lavaboy” who turns guns into stone to build homes. Students have taken leadership in the City permit process by attending a PAAC (Public Art Advisory Committee) to approve the mural design and advocating for support. In recent months during the final mural approval processes, Caltrans, the property owners of the freeway walls, has created a legal barrier and we are now unable to move forward. WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW!!! Encourage Caltrans to approve the production of the next mural. Our underpasses are in a crisis state and present so many problems in our area. Reviving this public space through art and beauty means a stronger investment from Oakland residents to keep the city safe and respected by all. We need your help to advocate and create public pressure to move the process forward. visit our petition to sign and lend your support.  
OSH Mural Blank Wall OSH Mural Finished Wall
The mission and purpose of Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc. (AHC) is to empower individuals to be self aware and inspired through arts, creativity, and education, making positive choices to break the cycle of violence for themselves and their communities. AHC envisions a world where everyone is whole, safe, loved, educated and valued. For more than 24 years AHC has, with great success, provided access to the arts for schools that lack the resources and provided healing and creative programs to at-risk communities in Oakland through creative expression. AHC’s award winning program ArtEsteem has served as a vital force to creatively galvanize the resources to provide arts integrated curriculum with a focus on social justice and self-development to over 57 at-risk schools and communities since 1995 reaching over 50,000 children, youth and families.

Our Goal

Our goal with the Oakland Super Heroes Mural (OSH) project is to cultivate, educate and engage youth in community issues and solutions through the power of public art.

“It’s great to be a part of this, I mean… I can’t believe my art is going into a mural!!!” Betsy, from Westlake Middle School’s Eagle Village Afterschool Program