Inspiring Community Action through Art

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, some are worth a thousand actions.

Last spring, thanks to a project produced by EcoArts Connections in partnership with LESAC (Lafayette Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee), 7th and 8th grade art students in Ms. David’s class at Angevine Middle School in Lafayette, Colorado put their imagination and talent to work to create murals designed to promote sustainability and action on climate change in their community. Inspired by the ACE Assembly and ACE’s Do One Thing (DOT) campaign, students worked in three groups to choose their own sustainability themes and were joined by local graffiti artist, Jolt, who helped them brainstorm, sketch, and paint the murals shown here.

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Their art is now on display in the Lafayette Public Library for the whole community to see. I caught up with some of the artists at a recent celebration of the exhibit to hear more about the experience. After all, who better to tell you about the project than the artists themselves?!

Angevine artists with their murals (left to right): Rubi Rojas, Tahley Scott, Amy Villegas, and Olivia Berry Angevine artists with their murals (left to right): Rubi Rojas, Tahley Scott, Amy Villegas, and Olivia Berry

Which mural did you work on and how did you decide what to include?

Tahley Scott: The mural that I worked on had a big tree on top of the Earth. On the left were smoke stacks and water and air pollutants. On the right were turbines, a child’s swing, and plants. The group that I worked in decided what to put on our mural by discussing our thoughts and coming up with ideas. We really had to work together and squish all our ideas onto one mural. We hoped that our mural could show how our futures could be impacted by climate change. If we ignore climate change, terrible things can happen (left). If we choose to take action, we can be well rewarded (right). On the mural it says, “Choose your future.”

Amy Villegas: I also worked on the “Choose Your Future” mural. We thought of all the ideas together, that there should be a bad side and a good side. The good side had a rainbow, plants, outdoor activities. The bad side had fire, lightning, and a power plant. Each person gave ideas and shared what we thought would fit and we all put it together. We wanted to show that we use less energy to have our world be better, cleaner, and healthier.

Olivia Berry: I worked on the mural with the Earth that’s half good, half bad. Everyone in my group made their own sketch and then we compromised to include everything. I hope my message shows people that if we keep treating the earth terribly it will end up horrible and if we treat it nicely, it will treat us nicely back.

Rubi Rojas: I worked on the “What Do You Choose” mural. Jesus [Fraire, the student leader of the group of painters for that mural] drew something and we all liked what he drew [as the overall theme] so [we decided that] there would be a good side and a bad side. I drew the Earth on the mural, and it was my idea to put in the electric cars [which Jolt painted]. I wanted electric cars included because they don’t waste gas and the exhaust doesn’t go into the air. Electric cars can be a better idea than gas cars. I hope that this mural encourages people to think about having a better place in the future, one without waste and with more trees. To have a better world instead of a bad one.

What was the most exciting part of this project? The most challenging?

Rubi Rojas: The most exciting part was that we got to work in a team and everyone participated and got to know each other more. To make new friends. The most challenging part was deciding which colors to use.

Olivia: The most exciting part of the project was painting the fire, it made me feel so great having my own special part in the mural. Some challenges we faced during the project were trying to figure out which parts to include and which parts to take out.

Amy Villegas: I liked working with spray paint and learning different techniques, but it was challenging because the spray paint would drip everywhere. I also liked working as a group and expressing ideas through art. Deciding what to fit into the mural for the final piece, what to add and what to keep out, that was hard too. But to decide we just talked to each other.

Tahley: I loved it when Jolt told us how to spray paint specific ways. It was really fun to be creative and to use spray paint for the first time. While doing this project, it was very hard for the murals to turn out the way we wanted them to. To be honest, it turned out pretty messy. We were able to have Jolt help us fix up our murals.

What did you learn from this project and why is it important to you?

Tahley: When we did this project, I learned so much about climate change and how we need to act fast. I found this project to be important because it can share the message about saving our Earth from climate change. We hope people can use our murals to take action.

Olivia: I learned that working together to make a better future was really fun and exciting, I also learned how to compromise, even when it meant sacrificing a great idea. This project was so important to me because it gave me a chance to put myself out there, leave a mark for people to see and learn from. I got the chance to actually make a difference.

Rubi Rojas: I learned that we could make the world a better place by using electric cars, not making waste, and planting more trees. It was interesting to do it through art - spray painting with a professional spray painter.

Amy Villegas: I learned how much energy that we use from ACE, that we use so much of it. Just one person impacts the world a lot, more than we think about. This project is important so we can share with the city, with everyone who sees the murals, how important it is to use less energy and that there will be consequences if we don’t take action.