The bold black lower-case words, “you are beautiful,” stand out against a black wall of blue, gold and red hand-written words echoing that thought, at 2732 6th Avenue South.
The mural faces west on 28th Street South, between 6th and 7th Avenues. Part of Matthew Hoffman’s growing web of community-participation murals, he brought stencils of the simple, bold, sans serif letters, “you are beautiful,” to start what turned into an all-ages project for this neighborhood and mural fans around the city.
15 feet high and 43 feet long, the mural glows with bright blue and bright gold handprints and words, scattered with red hearts and stars. Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful Project is creating murals like this one around the globe and in every state. This vivid gathering of handwriting and handprints, is the one for Florida.
The “you are beautiful” sign in front of the wall is Matthew Hoffman’s trademark, a rectangle with rounded edges 4 feet high and 16 feet long. The lowercase words, “you are beautiful,” in bold black type, are outlined by a bold black line a few inches inside the sign’s edge. This striking printed sign is what passing drivers read, catching everyone’s attention on a busy industrial street.
Behind the sign, the dark wall is covered with clusters of handprints and words. The stenciled words, “you are beautiful,” that Hoffman added as a starting point, are almost lost in painted words like, “One World One Love,” “Love Has No Borders,” “Be Audacious,” “Be The Change,” “You Are Enough,” “Live the Life You Love,” “Life is Tough But So Are You,” “Grow Art,” “Amor” and Chinese characters.
All around the words are bright blue and gold and red handprints, in every size. Red hearts, a blue sunrise, blue circles and a blue rainbow, a smiley face.
The words and hands and shapes were painted on by volunteers and people living in this neighborhood, as Hoffman shared both paint and brushes. The words and fingerprints are very personal, and many of the hands that left their mark are those of children.
Close-up, they form a written chorus of positivity and affirmations, worth exploring slowly, inch by inch. It’s a moving snapshot of this community.
As you step further away, the shapes and letters become abstract, like clusters of flowers growing thickly on the wall.
Matthew Hoffman is based in Chicago, an artist and designer known for large-scale public art projects.
As he explains, “When the phrase, ‘You Are Beautiful’ is integrated into a city or community, it creates an immediate positive dialogue. . . The mission is to leave the world a little better than when we found it.”
This mural is one of the SHINE Festival’s official Bright Spots, in partnership with the St Petersburg nonprofit, Public Art Project.
Watch a video of Matthew Hoffman’s ‘You are Beautiful’ mural taking shape,
with help from our community
Find out more about Matthew Hoffman’s work at heyitsmatthew.com
Follow Matthew Hoffman on Instagram @heyitsmatthew