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UH design students to beautify Cullen Boulevard underpass

HOUSTON – Students in the senior graphic design program at the University of Houston School of Art will soon be adding their own touch to their community.

The university partnered with the Houston City Council, mayor’s office, county commissioner’s office, TxDOT and the Gateway at Cullen property to create a collaborative mural at the I-45 underpass at Cullen Boulevard.

“Today is the official kickoff of the Cullen Underpass beautification project,” Gonzo247, a renowned Houston muralist, said. 

The university asked the artist to help the 2019 graduating design students with this project. The 22 pillars at the underpass will soon be painted with color.

“The Cullen I-45 underpass is a connector between all these different entities from the UH -- Third Ward, Eado and the East End. And so the idea was to find a creative way to visually interpret these four elements where they all kind of cross paths at I-45 and Cullen and have something that would artistically bring the place to life,” Gonzo247 said.

“Each group had to propose a concept, and we had to make a booklet and make a board and make a whole presentation on it,” Tamily Amanzholova, a student, said.

Amanzholova’s group’s design was chosen for the project. The students had to research each neighborhood and talk with residents to get ideas about how the neighborhoods could be represented through colors and patterns, making sure to include elements of each neighborhood’s history.

“Putting these patterns with these colors. Same as for UH -- it looks like a beehive but color of UH. We want to show how students work together and how people of different backgrounds and ethnicity come together at the university,” Amanzholova said.

City Councilman Robert Gallegos helped to organize efforts and resources.

“I just reflect the history of the area, and that just reflects the artwork that’s going to be on the pillars,” Gallegos said.

For students, it is a learning experience.

“Us as designers, we have to use a lot of typography. This project, we couldn’t use any whatsoever because it’s, like, a safety hazard for drivers,” Annette Wong, another student designer, said.

The students start painting on Tuesday. If all goes well, the project should be done by mid-May.