Phoenix Rising

Mosaic and Painted Mural for A Community of Friends’ Firestone-Phoenix Affordable Housing in Huntington Park

Piece by Piece has partnered with A Community of Friends (ACoF) on several projects throughout the years including the Villas at Gower in Hollywood and the Silver Star in South Los Angeles. With each project, we draw inspiration from the location and the residents of the buildings. This was one of our favorite projects, completed during the pandemic and yet still created by our team with dedication and enthusiasm.

First section of mural

The Firestone-Phoenix building was named after the mythical bird the Phoenix, symbolizing renewal and hope. A member of the team at ACoF said “…residents will have hope and faith to reenvision their lives with permanent supportive housing. It reflects the residents who are emerging from the challenges that they've faced. They are putting their pasts behind them and attempting to rise above their circumstances to a better future.” With those words of wisdom to guide us, we developed a series of abstract feathers to represent not only the Phoenix but also to illustrate feathers, as seen in many cultures, as symbols of strength. A brilliant sun at the forefront represents life.

on this feather you can see several symbols including a spiral, the Adinkra symbols for unity and resilience.

On this feather you can see several symbols including a spiral, the Adinkra symbols for unity and resilience.

We used symbols of hope and resilience from several different cultures including Adinkra symbols from Africa, Celtic symbols, and symbols from South America.

Mural artist Noni Olabisi

Mural artist Noni Olabisi

For this project we also partnered with a well-known muralist in South Los Angeles, Noni Olabisi. Her legendary work throughout the neighborhoods of Los Angeles has been inspirational for many. Her love for her city is apparent not only in her work, but in her passion to connect with people wherever she creates.

(L) Piece by Piece artist James; (C) artist instructors Ellen and Bea; (R) Piece by Piece artist Vickie

(L) Piece by Piece artist Angelica; (C) Piece by Piece artist Kim; (R) Artist Instructor Julie

While we are still at the tail end of the pandemic, our team was able to work on this project in small groups in our studio, following all COVID-19 protocols to keep everyone safe. We used our signature variety of materials to create texture and convey the bright energy of a Phoenix.

(L) our installer Juan grouting; (C) Piece by Piece artists Hilda and June polishing; (R) lead instructor Luz with assistant instructor Jose

With the mosaic complete, we headed over to the site to begin the installation. First, with the help of a great installer, we adhered the mosaic to the wall. Second, we grouted and polished every piece. This was a great time to meet and visit with residents who came out to observe our work and have a chat.


(L) Piece by Piece artist instructor Bea; (C) center feather; (R) Piece by Piece artist June

Noni guided several of our artists and instructors through her process, layering the paint, creating the broad strokes, and then adding the details. Because our artist team has never done a painted mural before, this was a great experience for everyone, and the designed gradation of mosaic to paint has a powerful effect.

We are grateful for the support of A Community of Friends and our new friends at the Firestone-Phoenix!

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