Image: Anat Ronen

Anat Ronen has been inspiring Houstonians for years with murals that have graced numerous locations throughout the Bayou City (you may be familiar with this collaborative mural she did in May). However, her latest art installation, standing at the heart of downtown in Discovery Green since July 1 , is one of her most powerful yet. Capturing the gravity of the past few months with a beautiful simplicity that speaks volumes, "Hands of Heroes" is an embodiment of the gratitude, unity, and courage members of our community have displayed during these times of unprecedented devastation.

Though the initial motivation behind the piece was to honor healthcare workers, her inspiration took new shape after the death of George Floyd shook the ground underneath Houstonians. When Discovery Green served as the starting point for the 60,000 people who marched to City Hall demanding justice for Floyd on June 2, Ronen knew her art needed to reflect the magnitude of what was happening in the very spot her installation was about to take form. “It was apparent after people started to march and protest and congregate at Discovery Green that we needed to do something to mark that moment in time,” says Ronen.

Image: Anat Ronen

Tapping into the universal symbolism of hands, the muralist painted images including gloved hands forming a heart and a raised fist honoring the Black Lives Matter Movement. Beneath the hands, which are also reaching for each other and grasped together in solidarity, is a background of colorful squares that evoke Margo Sawyer’s permanent sculpture "Synchronicity of Color," which has been a staple in Discovery Green since 2008.

While there are clearly multiple layers of meaning wrapped up in this new, colorful creation, Ronen hopes her art’s complex messages can still be easily understood, leaving every observer with an uplifting takeaway. “Kindness and love and positivity, and also diversity and equality, I think that’s what represents me and my art,” says Ronen. “So, I hope that everybody, whatever messages they take from it, they’re all going to be positive and overall good.”

Hands of Heroes is on display in front of The Grove restaurant, 1611 Lamar St, in Discovery Green for a limited time.

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