Since the pandemic, the conversation around food security has intensified and has become one of the many underlying issues COVID has helped to uncover. Largely affecting youth, it is estimated that 13 million children across the country are living in homes that are considered “food insecure.” A national organization has been working to shift the narrative around food security and has recently partnered with five different artists from five of America’s largest cities, including Detroit.
No Kid Hungry has launched a campaign to end childhood hunger. Together with artists from Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, Washington D.C. and Detroit, the No Kid Hungry, as a part of their ‘Rebuilding’ initiative, will showcase murals of the artists’ take on childhood hunger. For Detroit, artist Désirée Kelly drew inspiration from her daughter and her personal experience to help spark her creative expression and display Detroit’s grit.
“As an artist, creating beautiful work is something that is your escape from the environment. What Detroit added to my work is that edgy grittiness to it. It can be a portrait about somebody, but then there’s these textures and unexpected things are in the piece,” says Kelly.
Award-winning artist and premiere portraitist Kelly was hand chosen by No Kid Hungry to design a mural representative of Detroit. Born and raised on Detroit’s east side, Kelly has a decorated career including works for Pepsi, Converse, Kroger, City of Royal Oak and most recently a commissioned mural of Aretha Franklin completed for the film “Respect” that left the film’s star, Jennifer Hudson, praising the work.
“I was really proud to be a part of this project. All the details were hidden forever. Finally, we talked about it and they came up with ‘rebuild’ and I thought it was perfect. From the conversation with the kids, I was inspired and just coming from my own perspective as a kid growing up in Detroit and not seeing any art around, it was my first instinct to ask what I wanted to see on a wall,” says Kelly.
According to the No Kid Hungry organization, one in four kids could face hunger this year just in Wayne County. Children who relied on school meals as a source of nourishment were met with no options with the close of schools. The organization hopes the lasting effects of food scarcity for American families can be cut with the help of meal programs.
“The pandemic has been devastating for American kids and families, and too many will feel the impact of this crisis well into the future. This crisis revealed how critical strong meals programs are for kids and families. That work must continue,” says Diana Hovey, senior vice president of corporate partnerships at Share Our Strength, the organization behind the No Kid Hungry campaign. “As we look ahead, rebuilding starts when every kid in every community has access to the food they need. We all have a part to play, and our hope is to make it as simple as possible to contribute, like when you donate to No Kid Hungry, or dine or shop with brands that support our work, you can help make that a reality.”
Kelly’s mural will also be a part of a micro-documentary showing what the past year has been like for hungry children and families in the metro Detroit area. The micro-documentary details how local schools and community leaders rallied together to feed their neighborhood during the pandemic and beyond.
“I’m really happy to be a representative of the community in this partnership and I really think it’s authentic. Learning about the different cities they had participate, they are all products of their area and it’s really great to have that very strong connection,” says Kelly. “They really let me take creative direction.”
The mural can be viewed at 1009 Cass Avenue and was made possible through a partnership with No Kid Hungry, Checkers and Rally’s and Hickory Farms.