Austin painted in vivid color

Alec Lippman, Staff Writer

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Brush by brush, the Color Squad works together to create large, thoughtful murals throughout the city of Austin. Each mural raises awareness for various social justice topics such as LGBTQ awareness, the rights of immigrants and food justice.

Color Squad is just one of three programs for teens around the city of Austin to express themselves and bring attention to important issues around Austin. They are part of a larger organization called Creative Action which includes Color Squad, a theater program called Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble and film program called Youth Cinema Collective that shine a light on social justice issues with their respective mediums.

Students all around Austin, such as junior Zoe Dubin, do something they are passionate about along with getting paid to raise awareness about social justice issues through art.

“Color Squad is artistic high schoolers who like to paint and make community outreach murals,” Dubin said. “We talk to the community about different issues and then we make a mural for them. This year we are partnered with Out Youth which is an LGBTQ community and we are making a mural that reflects that.”

Color Squad begins each year by brainstorming a relevant topic to create a mural about. This brainstorming leads to a general idea and outline for the mural they would like to create. This year, Color Squad decided to create a mural that showcases the LGBTQ community of Austin to make members of this community feel welcome and included. Sophomore, Ianna Brothwell-Hernandez, said the intended result of creating these murals was to make people feel welcome.

“The goal is basically to promote change and try and help people around Austin and make them feel safer in the community that they are in,” Brothwell-Hernandez said. “I hope this mural makes people feel safe and accepted because it can be tough being a part of the LGBTQ community and it is just to help people out.”

Doing this through an artistic medium takes lots of time and development to make sure the message is implemented well into the idea and is reflected accurately in the mural. Assistant Director of Color Squad Larissa Akhmetova said it takes a lot of commitment to create the mural.

“We spend the whole school year working towards learning about our topic and we make a scene for the mural,” Akhmetova said. “I would say like this mural specifically is going to be a thousand square feet and we started designing in January. So yeah it takes a few months and it’s now April and our design is finalized so I’ll just say three months for this.”

Within the three month process, members of Color Squad decide on topics they would like a mural to address and learn more about these topics from research or talks from people knowledgeable about the topic being discussed. A design is created for the mural and then it is painted on parachute cloth which is transported to the final location for the mural. Their current mural, focusing on the LGBTQ community of Austin, will be placed on a pillar and long wall that is slightly east of Peter Pan Mini Golf on Barton Springs road. Akhmetova has high hopes for the potential of this mural and its impact on the Austin community.

“This mural is depicting different LGBTQ people in our community and also throughout history along with quotes of advice for people in the community,” Akhmetova said. “I think it will have a bigger impact because it’ll say like specifically the thoughts of people. I think it will empower Queer and trans people and I think it will let people see who are not within the community see how they feel.”