2020 Mural Renovation Project - University of Houston
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One of the first experiences you have when you enter the Graduate College of Social Work is of the large colorful mural facing what is currently the building’s entrance.

The idea for the mural started when Ira Colby joined the college as Dean in Fall 1999. Dean Colby connected with artist Reginald Adams to explore the vision of artwork being a larger part of the college to help facilitate connections with both the local community and the Houston social service community. And it was meant to capture the journey of students who graduated and went into that community to contribute in various ways in various organizations. One of the things Ira liked about Reginald Adams was his work in the surrounding community and his strong belief and commitment to accessible art; Adams believed that art should be available to everyone from all backgrounds regardless of socioeconomic or status.

The mural, which covers 7 interior walls in the building, captures the likenesses of people within the College at the time of its creation. The featured faces are actually based on the students, faculty, and alumni at that time. The total time for construction took almost a year, starting with conversations, feedback, and engagement with the community followed by its production over a 4 to 5 month period. The mural was dedicated on March 31, 2000. When created, the GCSW was known as the GSSW.

The mural has become its own character in our story of the Graduate College of Social Work, serving part greeter, historian, storyteller, facilitator of belonging and a reminder of our mission and the important work to be done together.

Given as a legacy gift from The Frees Foundation, Artist Reginald Adams has undertaken the task of redoing the mural where “it would be exactly what people remember but also fresher, with a means of reengaging the common community. A renovation will bring more life to the mural."

The mural is a memory and it speaks to this college and resonates with the students, faculty, and visitors of the University. 


About Our Mural

  • "Pulling Together" - Tile Mosaic Mural
  • Created by Reginald Adams
  • Dedicated March 31, 2000

About Pulling Together

  • Covers seven interior walls in the lobby of the GCSW
  • When created, the GCSW was known as the GSSW
  • Life-sized people pulling the chains of oppression that prevent entry into a world characterized by Social and Economic Justice for All.
  • Many of the people are faculty, students, staff, and community members of the GCSW. The artist is known for inserting images of real people.
  • A crowd struggles to open doors that reveal a brilliant sphere rising above the horizon. That circular form, a symbol of the highest level of knowledge and understanding of oneself, was created using pieces of broken mirror in which viewers of the mural see their own reflections – you too are a part of the mural, and also a part of the struggle for justice