The largest mural in the Pittsburgh region is coming to life in the Hill District — and you can help paint it

The photo above, courtesy of Kyle Holbrook, shows Holbrook’s Aunt Vicky helping to paint the new mural in the Hill District.

The largest mural in the Pittsburgh region is in the works, and you can help create it. By fall, the art will cover most of the new Salem’s Marketplace and Grill in the Hill District, where the Shop-n-Save used to be. With a paintbrush and an idea, novices become artists, adding their touches to this new mural in the Hill District which is soon to be the biggest in the Pittsburgh region.

The Morant kids all left their lasting mark at the community event Saturday: “I painted my name because I guess it’s important to show people how much you care about the community,” said 16-year-old Jerome Morant.

His sister, Shayae, who’s 19, agreed: “I put my name on it because this is also my neighborhood.”

Their younger sibling, Jael, was excited to see his community come together to begin this project: “It’s just so amazing because every day I’m gonna be here, I’m gonna look at this wall. I’m gonna imagine tons of wonderful things about my siblings”

The mural started with the words “End Gun Violence” and grew organically as kids, police officers, and people throughout the community have added their own messages and symbols. Wilkinsburg native and artist Kyle Holbrook creates murals around the world. He’s touring all 50 states for “Gun Violence Awareness” and is bringing his message of peace to Pittsburgh.

“I’ve been shot at several times,” Holbrook said. “Most of my best friends have been victims of gun violence. I’ve lost family members to gun violence.”

Teenager Samaya Thomas, who helped paint the mural, feels the same deep connection to the message of stopping gun violence: “We’re all the same complexion so it affects all of us. And we’re all sad about it because a lot of people in my family have died from gun violence so it’s hard.”

Holbrook and artists from around the world will add their own designs to the mural depicting the Hill District’s history with QR codes to learn more. The community hopes the art can be the beginning of a better future.

Destiny Brown, a teenager from the Hill District, said, she hopes the art will heal “by making people listen more, talking about it more, experiencing it.”

Kamala Harris spoke last month in front of a Holbrook mural in Homewood.

Holbrook knows art can’t stop the violence, but it can be a powerful symbol and an inspiration for change. And the act of making art together is the beginning of that.

“By everyone coming together,” Holbrook said, “We got officers, we got kids, we got people from different communities, we got intergenerational, we got people working together – that’s what makes a community.”

Jerome Morant added: “We’re a community. It’s good to care instead of going against them.”

The teenagers who are helping with the mural had much wisdom to share: “We could stop the violence. We just have to come together, which is pretty much a little bit of a problem nowadays because we are all seeing the differences in everybody instead of putting aside those differences,” said 18-year-old Dominique Hamlin.

This recent painting event was the first of three community days at Salem’s Marketplace, where anyone can come and help create the mural. You can join on Aug. 21 and Sept. 17 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome.