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Sep 08, 2018
Recently I was one of 35 artists who created hand-painted play-themed murals for the Colorado Department of Transportation, enhancing the construction wall which separates Swansea Elementary School from the I-70 expansion project in NE Denver. Painting that fence was controversial because many people in the neighborhood do not want the highway to be widened there, and they are upset about other results of that CDOT project. Our purpose there was to make the most of the situation (a wall that already exists) by giving the children a cheerful, colorful, happy view from their school. It was a worthy and valuable project—despite opposition—because I believe it is an investment in their mental and emotional health.
To make it all about the kids, I researched the school and neighborhood. Because the theme was “Play” I selected three school activities which fall into that category: La Sistema Music Program, Jump Rope Club and Basketball Club. I learned that 88% of people who live in that neighborhood self-identify as Latino/a. In reverence for that cultural heritage, I created a background inspired by traditional clothing from Latin American nations. The result was swirls of color with stripes and flowers, similar to the dresses we see in Denver’s Cinco de Mayo Parade. Children respond well to black, white, and the primary colors (red, blue and yellow). The school colors are blue and yellow, so I visited the school office with a Pantone color matching book and had paint mixed to match the specific colors of the school. I also included text in both English and Spanish so that not only the children could understand, but so that non-English speakers nearby are also invited to enjoy the art.
You'll see in the photos that my husband, John, was there with me all weekend doing the actual painting. I couldn't have done it without him!
I was interviewed by the news stations before and during the painting. Click the links below for those segments.
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