Members of the community gathered Nov. 4 at the University of Houston at Sugar Land for a ribbon-cutting and unveiling ceremony for the newly installed "Diversity over Division" mural.
The mural represents the culmination of a yearlong collaboration between UH at Sugar Land, the Fort Bend County Judge’s Office and Fort Bend County Libraries. The The initiative began in summer 2020 with the goal of celebrating the array of cultures, languages and perspectives in Fort Bend County, said Jay Neal, associate vice president and chief operating officer at UH at Sugar Land.
Neal said in addition to the mural, the initiative included panel discussions, a photography contest, an art and literacy competition, and book discussions.
“There was a lot going on that summer, and we needed to respond in a positive way,” Neal said, referring to the murder of George Floyd. “I think we’ve got, as a university, a moral obligation to demonstrate how we navigate through hard times.”
The mural, located on the east windows of the Brazos Hall building across from the University Branch Library, features the work of six individual artists under the direction of Houston public artist Reginald Adams.
“[The mural’s] location is not by accident,” Neal said. “It’s highly trafficked across from the library so that faculty, staff, students and any visitors that come to the campus can see themselves reflected in the images. It’s a legacy to the work of many who agree that there’s more that connects us than divides us.”
Artists involved in the project include Ami Mehta from India, Samson Adenugba from Nigeria, Laura Cano Lopez from Mexico, Tony Parana from Brazil, Dandee Warhol from the Philippines and Rhonda Radford Adams from Houston.
“Fort Bend County being one of the most diverse counties in the country, I wanted the artwork to be genuinely that diverse,” Adams said. “['Diversity over Division'] is a really bold idea to try to put into a work of art, so each artist interpreted through their own lens what that meant to them.”
Running across the mural are words from Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton’s, Houston’s first Black poet laureate, poem “Growing Tomorrow in a Field of Today,” which she wrote for the project.
County Judge KP George said it is his vision to make “Diversity over Division” a slogan used throughout the world.
“This is just a start, and sometimes you have no idea how far this is going to go,” George said.