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Artist Annie Hong honors grief and loss with a new mural in Colorado Springs
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Anne Hong is a muralist in this year's Art on the Streets in downtown Colorado Springs.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A treasure hunt opens the 23rd annual Art on the Streets in downtown Colorado Springs June 4th, presenting 12 new works by artists from Colorado Springs and around the world.   

Seven sculptures, four murals, and one combination mural and performance piece were selected for this year’s program from nearly 200 proposals. 

One artist is Los Angeles-based Annie Hong, whose mural, The Other Side, brightly colors the intersection of Pikes Peak and Wahsatch.

“Around the time that I got accepted to Art on the Streets was around the time that the Atlanta shooting happened,” said Hong. 

On March 16, 2021, three spas and massage parlors in the Atlanta, Georgia area were targeted in a series of shootings, leaving eight dead, six of whom were Asian women.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced that kind of grief and rage,” Hong said. "My mom raised me as a single Korean-American immigrant mother. I remember staying at her hair salon when she would go to work when I was a kid. All of it hit so close to home. 

For a minute, Hong said, they didn’t know what to do. 

“Then I just tried to channel all of that grief and rage and those intense emotions into creating this piece,” they said. 

 The mural reads: "Where do tears uncried flow."

Artist Annie Hong honors grief with a new mural
Colorado Voices

Artist Annie Hong honors grief with a new mural

LA-based artist Annie Hong honors grief with a new mural in downtown Colorado Springs.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about, if this senseless act of tragedy didn’t happen, what would these women’s stories be?” Hong said. “What would be the things that they were dreaming about? What were the things that they were crying about?”

“This is in memory of stories untold.”

Then, the Boulder shooting occurred at King Soopers, adding unfortunate resonance to Hong’s work. 

“Especially after a year like 2020, I don’t know anybody who hasn’t experienced an immense loss,” Hong said. “This mural is for anybody who has been grieving or felt a loss.”

 Hong has long used art to process complex life experiences.

“Art has been something that has been part of my life since I could hold a pencil,” they said. “When I was 17, 18, I really didn’t think [being a professional artist] was a possibility for me. This is part of the Asian American story. I’m first generation. I think a lot of first generations feel indebted, in a way, to their parents for their sacrifices for coming here.”

The idea of pursuing something in a creative field was not accessible for their mom’s generation, Hong reflected. 

“My mom grew up in a completely different era, a completely different time, a completely different country,” Hong said. “A lot of people were living in poverty.”

Out of gratitude, and a desire to succeed, Hong enrolled in the University of California Santa Barbara. 

“I was going to follow a ‘normal’ trajectory of life, and make my mom proud. That didn’t pan through, luckily for me,” they laughed. 

Before moving to Los Angeles in February 2020, Hong lived in Seoul, South Korea for five years. 

“I just fell in love with my heritage, and got really connected to my Korean roots,” they said.

“It’s common with first generation immigrant families, that sometimes children and their parents don’t speak the same language. It’s quite difficult growing up. You really can’t understand each other past a certain point,” Hong said. “So living in Korea, and understanding the country and history that my mom is coming from, helped me absolutely to understand her better.”

 “Now I see it all in a completely different way,” Hong said.

The Other Side will be up through May 2022. 

“People are into it. I hear people shouting on the streets, ‘It looks great!’” Hong said. 

Colorado Springs has been very friendly, ”and it’s beautiful everywhere I go,” Hong said. “I love the fresh air, and the scenery. I love it out here.” 

Since its start in 1998, Art on the Streets has displayed over 300 pieces of art downtown, and the district is home to over 50 permanent works. Learn more here.  See a map of this year’s artwork here.


Kate Perdoni is a multimedia journalist for Rocky Mountain PBS and can be reached at kateperdoni@rmpbs.org.

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