Lifelong artist Tombaugh met Adae through her elementary school art teacher and began taking his classes in 2016. “This summer,” she said “I didn’t really have that much to do, so I was wondering if I could help him with any of his projects, and he had a lot of openings, so he asked me to help with this mural. It was a really great opportunity.” She cited Adae as one of her biggest artistic inspirations with a special appreciation for “his perspective on how to look at what you’re drawing, which is really different from how I’ve been taught before -- instead of drawing literally what you’re looking at, [try] looking at the geometric shapes and negative space.”
The mural is on the exterior wall of the Hillside Family Shelter, which provides “apartment style emergency housing for families experiencing homelessness,” according to Christian Community Action, the group who runs the shelter and collaborated with Adae on this project. The title, “Everybody Deserves to Come Home to Flowers” represents the belief “that no matter what situation you’re in, whether you have a very lavish life, or, like the people living in the shelter, there is more financial instability in your life, everyone still deserves something beautiful to come home to, something good at the end of the day,” said Tombaugh. More specifically, the flowers chosen were orchids, because they’re very resilient flowers and can sustain many lifestyles.
After the subject of the mural was chosen, it was time to prepare the wall for painting. “First,” said Tombaugh, “we powerwashed the whole surface, and then primed it. For that we got to go on a scissor lift which was really cool because you’re all the way up at the tops of the trees and that’s a perspective that you don’t usually get. [Then], we painted over it.” In addition to Tombaugh, Adae had two other assistants, as well as many of the youth in the neighborhood and children staying at the shelter who helped with painting the mural. The whole process took about a month and a half. In addition to painting the mural, Adae explained in an interview with Connecticut Public that he also worked with a local nonprofit that provides free trees to have two trees planted near the mural, “so after this mural fades, there still is an element of beauty here.”
Tombaugh highlighted the importance of the mural as an art form, saying, “I think that with most art, you have to go to a museum voluntarily, and it is mostly for the people who are already interested in the arts. But with murals, not only do they embellish the city, but they also help represent what is important to the city, like with ‘Flowers.’” She added that making art more accessible to youth in general is essential, because “art is very therapeutic, or has been at least for me, and it is so powerful in so many different ways, including that it can help elevate voices in a community.”
In addition to seeing his art around the city of New Haven, Hopkins students have an opportunity to see Adae’s work up close. Hopkins has a selection of Adae’s smaller work on display in the Keator Gallery until October 21.