Kansas City is a place known for its hard work and innovation. The murals in the Power and Light District depict Kansas City's journey of struggle. Each mural contains a different message, featuring many diverse topics, from technology and machinery down to the human spirit. Located in downtown Kansas City, this $850 million entertainment district is the largest new development project in the Midwest. With over 50 bars, shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, the Power and Light District is packed with activities and places to explore.
The murals were painted by Alexander Austin, a previously homeless man turned successful artist. He began his work on the project in 2008 when he was commissioned to paint the south sides of the Kansas City Power & Light District buildings. In 2017, he created another mural, portraying players from the Kansas City Monarchs as well as other African American sports players, such as Wilt Chamberlain. The story behind Austin's art is an interesting one. To get by, he started out painting portraits of people outside of bars and clubs. Over time, his work began to garner attention. He eventually completed work for the Kansas City Zoo and developed two greeting card designs for Hallmark. This journey eventually led him to find work in the Power and Light District.
Overall, the messages behind the works in the Power and Light District are of conviction and character in overcoming the problems of yesterday with the courage of today. Focusing on issues such as African-American rights and culture, Austin has left thought-provoking public pieces for the masses to appreciate.
Cover image by Sharon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.