What Defines Muskegon – Public Art Mural

December 9, 2021


A Mural by Dr, Hubert Massey to be Installed in Downtown Muskegon

DECEMBER 9, 2021

MUSKEGON, MI –The MuskegonCity Public Art Initiative, a program of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, announces its fifth project, which will be installed on the exterior façade of the Mercy Health Arena, weather permitting, on Friday, December 10, 2021, beginning mid-morning.

This public art commission is a monumentally scaled mural, 65-feet by 12-feet, painted in oils on aluminum composite panels, created by award-winning artist Dr. Hubert Massey of Detroit, Michigan. Planning for this project first began in the fall of 2019. The subject and scope of this mural was determined by a series of efforts in Muskegon to engage various people in the community to assist the artist in understanding What Defines Muskegon.  These efforts were done in collaboration with the Downtown Arts Committee of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Muskegon Heritage Museum, the James Jackson Museum of African America History, and the YEP Program of Community encompass

In 2020 and 2021, the MuskegonCity Public Art initiative conducted four community forums and three feedback sessions with a diverse audience of over 50 community members and artist Dr. Hubert Massey to gather ideas and inspiration for this work. Included in the forums were students, retirees, community leaders, neighborhood advocates, and citizens from all walks of life, ages ranging from 16 to 70+, men and women, and a diversity of ethnic backgrounds mirroring the population of the Muskegon community.

We asked this broad cross-section of our community a series of simple questions about what they thought and what they believed defines their community.  Is it our heterogeneous community? Is it our natural resources? Is it our mighty industrial heritage? Over the last 150 years, what has attracted and sustained the diversity of people who have made this resilient city what it is today? Their answers were thoughtful, heartfelt, and inspiring.

WHAT DEFINES MUSKEGON  is the story of Muskegon as our participants shared it with Dr. Massey, from the presence of the indigenous tribal peoples, to our lumbering boom and the industrial waves of progress that followed, from the impact of the Great Migration on our community in the 1930s and 1940s which helped to fuel Muskegon’s remarkable contribution to the war years, to the transformation of our community into this vibrant and diverse place rich with opportunity, culture, and a natural environment, this place we all call home.

Support for this mural has been provided by the MuskegonCity Public Art Initiative, Howmet Aerospace Foundation, the City of Muskegon, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Muskegon Rotary Foundation, the Hines Corporation, Nichols, Parmenter Law, the Women’s Division Chamber of Commerce, and over three dozen private individual donors.


Dr. Hubert Massey, a muralist, fresco, and mosaic artist, is a Michigan native hailing from Flint and a graduate of Grand Valley State University.  Dr. Massey, through his instinctive and innate ways is also, at heart and ultimately, a storyteller, seeking out and recreating the stories of community, translating them into his own visual language.

An award-winning Kresge Fine Arts Fellow, Massey’s distinctive fresco murals grace the halls of such visible Michigan destinations as the Flint Institute of the Arts, Detroit Athletic Club, and his alma mater, Grand Valley State University, where he earned an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts in 2012. In 2014 the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority commissioned Hubert to create the first large-scale mural completed for the Cobo Center since 1987.

Dr. Massey also studied at the University of London’s Slade Institute of Fine Arts and later learned the centuries-old fresco technique from former assistants of legendary Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Today Hubert is one of the very few fresco artists in America.


Judith Hayner, Project Director
MuskegonCity Public Art Initiative