American Campus to preserve ‘Hi, How Are You’ mural during building demolition


Eva Asfahani

Students pass by the “Hi how are you” mural on Guadalupe Street near the University of Texas at Austin on March 1, 2023.

Ali Juell, Senior News Reporter

In an ever-evolving city and campus, UT students are used to seeing the buildings and businesses that occupy the University area change year by year. Although the region continues to grow and adapt, the “Hi, How Are You” mural at the West 21st Street and Guadalupe Street intersection remains a constant.

As American Campus prepares to raze the Goodall Wooten building — which houses the mural — with no immediate plans for redevelopment, the student housing management group and Hi, How Are You Project have announced their commitment to preserving the historic mural.

Daniel Johnston, a Texas-based singer-songwriter and artist, created the mural in 1993. The piece’s depiction of a frog saying, “Hi, How Are You” is modeled after the cover art of his album of the same name. 

Johnston referred to the project as his “unfinished album” as he said obstacles related to his mental health prevented him from fully completing the project, according to the Hi, How Are You Project website. Johnston’s music and art throughout his career were partially influenced by an ongoing struggle with manic depression, according to his personal website.

Johnston and his family worked with collaborators to create the Hi, How Are You Project in 2018, a nonprofit focused on promoting conversations around mental health and ending the stigma associated with mental health struggles. With the efforts associated with its imagery, the mural has become an iconic Austin landmark and a continuous symbol of Johnston and mental health awareness.

Kenzo Revilla, founder and president of the University’s Street Art Muralist Organization, said the “Hi, How Are You” mural was one of the first things he noticed when he first came to college.

“Everywhere in the alleys and in the streets there’s taggers putting their names over other people’s names, … but the mural remains untouched,” Revilla said.  “(The mural) definitely has a big connection to the campus at large. … I think that it has an emotional connection with everyone that passes by it.”

Revilla said he fully supports the preservation project, as he knows the UT community would otherwise lose an important and highly respected piece of art.

Gina Cowart, American Campus senior vice president and Hi, How Are You Project board member, said in an email statement that the group understands the value of the mural to the community and sees its preservation as part of their effort to improve students’ well-being.

“We are committed to preserving the beloved mural because it is a reminder of the importance of creating open dialogues around mental health,” Cowart said. “This is so much more than a mural. … We’re proud to be a part in preserving this nationally recognized and quintessential piece of Austin.”

In order to maintain the mural, Cowart said it will be covered during the construction process and later incorporated into the building’s new design.