Spotlight: Hasson Roberts

Hasson Roberts worked with fellow Richmond artist, Shaylen Broughton, to work on the "Once Upon... With Love" Mending Walls mural at the Children's Museum Downtown. Learn more about Hasson by reading about our recent interview with him!

Published on February 26, 2021

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Hasson Roberts worked with fellow Richmond artist, Shaylen Broughton, to work on the “Once Upon… With Love” Mending Walls mural at the Children’s Museum Downtown. Hasson is originally from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and moved to Richmond when he was 12. He has always wanted to be an artist since he was kid. He finds his art as therapeutic and a great release. Learn more about Hasson by reading about our recent interview with him!

Hasson Roberts and Shaylen Broughton work together on the “Once Upon… With Love” Mural at the Children’s Museum Downtown location. Photography by Gianna Grace.

Tell us about the process and inspiration behind the mural.

“The inspiration behind the wall was children’s perspective on tough times and unity. We also wanted to bring in voices that are not heard as often, so I just sat down and talked to my nieces and nephews. We also wanted to bring a lot of color into it. If you look at the Children’s Museum, there’s colors everywhere, and we wanted to bring all that together. And we just wanted to make something that kids would enjoy.

If you look at the front of the mural, there’s a little girl there planting a seed. That came from us sitting at the picnic table and figuring out we needed a figure that conveyed the emotion of hope. We thought about a little somebody just planting flowers or playing with dandelions, playing around and planting seeds — planting something into the future. All of those different colored flowers and different colors throughout was really about bringing different types of people together. Each flower could be a different race, could be a different everything, just coming together into something beautiful.

We really wanted to showcase both our styles. You’ll notice on one side there’s a bunch of different flowers and the other there’s a bunch of amazing patterns and just one flower, like a white lotus, that signifies hope and is definitely my style. An important part to me and what really bought the whole thing home was putting the words on the mural. If you walk up to it, there’s words for the future and those words were submitted by kids all over Richmond and Virginia. We really reached out and wanted to hear how they feel about what is going on. Some are really funny — just to show you how fast they overcome — some are a little more doubting. We just really wanted to get their voices on the wall.”

The “Once Upon… With Love” Mural. Photography by B. So Creative

What was it like working on the Mending Walls project and with Shaylen?

“Me and Shay are still in contact about doing more work. [I’ve] known her for about six years — we met at an art show at the Hippodrome! Us being able to work together six years later was a full circle moment and our styles just blend well together. I love flowers and ethereal, almost organic flow, and her stuff is very organic and flows as well, so our powers combined just started to flow instantly.

We wanted to portray children’s movement and their perspective of life. I’m an uncle of six amazing nieces and nephews, and I wanted to give them, and kids, something they could identify with to just show their perspective of things. If you talk to any kid whether it’s raining or shining they always see positivity and love in everything. That hope they have in their hearts, and are not scared to put out there, is important, and I kind of think we lose touch with that the older we get.

That, and also, not too long ago I was a struggling artist and the Richmond community was very supportive. So it was a culmination of me coming full circle and feeling apart of this amazing group of people of Richmond artists who just support each other.”

What inspired you to be an artist at a young age?

“I always gravitated toward illustrations and drawing what I see and using that as an outlet for my emotions. I’ve had sketchbooks since I was a little kid. I was lucky and blessed with two great parents who supported me and just bought me sketchbooks. Nothing gave me more passion than expressing through picture how I felt and writing little things down and just trying to draw what I see, and also trying to use that to find comforting moments when growing up. So, art to me is everything. It’s all around us and it’s in me.”

Hasson blows on a dandelion in front of the Mending Wall mural. Photo from the Mending Walls website.

What are you working on now?

“I am trying to do more portraits and have been doing some pet portraits for some people. I have a few paintings I am trying to get up off the ground. I still want to do more murals. I am a manager at Home Depot, also, so I split my time and don’t get to do as much art as I really want to. I set some goals for myself to get more big pieces achieved.

The Mending Walls piece was very, very important to me because I was working 10 hour shifts and coming to paint in the morning. It became more than just a mural to me, it became a labor of love because I wanted to get it done. The final result – there was just so much put into it. And I remember when I finished there was a big wave of seeing it and being able to go after your dreams.”

Come and visit the “Once Upon… With Love” mural at our Downtown location.

To see more of Shaylen Broughton’s work, visit:  www.sabartstudio.com

To read more about Hasson Roberts and the Mending Walls project, please visit their website.

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