Leaky Ceiling Endangers John Biggers Mural In Houston

For many nonprofit community centers, a leaky ceiling poses a serious problem on its own. But for the Blue Triangle Multi-Cultural Association in Houston, Texas, the leak also endangers a historic public mural.

Painted by famed muralist John Biggers, the piece is titled “The Contribution of Negro Women to American Life and Education” and features many figures including Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. Biggers painted the mural in 1953, when the building housed the Blue Triangle YWCA.

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Source: VCU Arts Department

Within the last several months, a roof leak over the wall that holds the mural has become too big to continue addressing with patches, according to Board President Charlotte Bryant.

“When the patching stopped working, that’s when I started screaming,” she said.

The MCA is in the process of getting quotes for the roof repair, which have not been light – Bryant estimated it will cost more than $100,000.

leaky roof

Photo: Steve Gonzales Source: San Antonio Express News

Nevertheless, Bryant said she was “absolutely” confident that these funds will be raised. She said she expects local business people and grants to help, adding that contributions have started to come through the MCA’s website, though she didn’t say how much.

“We’re going to have some collaboration, and that’s whats so good. It’s going to be an effort that is going to be a joint,” Bryant said.

This issue has caught the attention of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. She held a press conference at the mural where she stated that she’s seeking corporate and federal funding to help, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Sheila Jackson Lee at Mural

Rep. Sheila Jackson at the mural. Photo: Michael Ciaglo. Source: Houston Chronicle

Bryant was also optimistic because the mural itself is evidently in great condition. The Chronicle quotes Museum of Fine Arts, Houston curator Alison de Lima Greene as stating that “it looks incredibly stable,” with no drips or loose paint.

“[That] made me feel even better,” Bryant said, adding, “we still have to restore some of the tiny spots here and there.”

Despite the danger of water damage, Bryant said she is glad this situation raised awareness for Biggers’ mural.

“A lot of people didn’t even know it was here,” she said. “We had quite a few universities around here they would bring their students over from time to time, but that wasn’t very much.”

“I’m happy that people are becoming aware that it’s present here,” she added.