Wayne State alumni and One Hamtramck will reveal the first large outdoor mural to depict Bengali culture in the United States on Oct. 21. The mural will be located at 3105 Carpenter St. on the border of Detroit and Hamtramck, according to One Hamtramck’s website.
One Hamtramck, a private company that “function(s) like a non-profit and work(s) at the grassroots in a nonprofit manner,” according to its website, initially started the project five years ago.
Maisha Rahman, an alumna of WSU class of 2016 and a member of the mural’s content committee, said that while the company faced some obstacles during the process which caused delays, she stuck with the project as a way to reconnect to her roots.
“This project has been very reminding of why I love my culture and a way for me to reconnect with it," she said. "I’ve learned more about where I come from and who I am today.”
The mural will display the history and culture of Bangladesh. The mural is painted by muralist Victor Quiñonez, also known as Marka27, said Shaffwan Ahmed, another member of the content committee and alumnus of WSU class of 2012.
“The process (of picking a muralist) got passionate at times and people had different preferences but we were able to pick an artist who had what we wanted,” said Ahmed. “Members of the committee contacted many artists and looked over their proposals and we voted based on the artist’s abilities and past works.”
Marka27 specializes in graffiti and large-scale street art. According to his site, he thinks what is most important is the ability to engage with the audience in order to create a dialogue.
Ahmed, who lives next door to the mural’s location, said he had plans to curate a mural with his best friend before joining forces with One Hamtramck. Ahmed said participating in the creation of the mural has been rewarding thus far.
“Being able to see it go from an idea to an actual thing is awesome,” he said.
Jabed Khan, the president of the Bangladeshi Student Association at WSU, said the Bengali student body helped in any way they could for this project.
“One Hamtramck is a big thing for everybody, especially for Bengalis,” he said. “One Hamtramck is representing the Bengali culture, community and culture (through this mural).”
Khan said that although Bangladesh is thousands of miles away from the United States, One Hamtramck helps make it feel closer.
“It’s going to be a memorial for the future we can all look back at and show future generations as we drive through Carpenter Street,” Khan said. “I’m proud that it’s going to be a success, and this is what came out of the hard work. I’m glad me and my team were part of this.”
The mural has a 20-year contract, according to a blog post by Bill Meyers on the One Hamtramck website.
Both Rahman and Ahmed said their time at WSU helped strengthen their bond with their culture.
“WSU is a really diverse place and where I learned to be confident with where I come from,” said Rahman. “I saw people who looked like me and was able to embrace my culture more, and it was such a great experience to go there.”
“I was able to experience a diverse community in college,” said Ahmed. “I didn’t get to attend school with a lot of people from my culture because many didn’t attend my high school (at the time). I met other Bangladeshi Americans at WSU and learned about how big the community really was in college.”
The mural will be revealed Oct. 21 at 2 p.m.
Susana Hernandez is The South End’s WSU Board of Governors and campus housing beat reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo by Shaffwan Ahmed.