New downtown mural artists share skills in schools to inspire kids to create


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The artists behind two new murals in downtown Austin are visiting schools Monday to share insight into their work and inspire kids to create art.

Austin painter Sadé Lawson, currently working on a mural on a wall on North Lamar Boulevard approaching 6th Street from the south, will be at the Ann Richards School For Young Woman Leaders.

“When I was growing up,” she told KXAN, “I didn’t really have a lot of female creative figures who were successful, who were doing things, had art in public places and spaces.”

Lawson, who started painting murals in 2018, wants to be the positive influence she didn’t have. “I’m just really thankful for the chance to kind of come out here and do any of this,” she said.

The other artist, Shepard Fairey, will present to 350 students at Austin ISD’s Performing Arts Center. Fairey, best known for designing former President Barack Obama’s “Hope” campaign poster and the “Obey” stencil pattern based on a photo of wrestler Andre the Giant, partnered with Canadian artist Sandra Chevrier to create a mural on the LINE hotel on Congress Avenue.

The massive piece of art features Wonder Woman breaking a chain. Both murals celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

(KXAN photo/Alex Hoder)

The art pieces are part of a project called “Writing on the Walls,” the first installation from the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation, the brand new nonprofit arm of the alliance of downtown stakeholders.

“Oftentimes, we think more about the buildings than the places around the buildings,” said Molly Alexander, the foundation’s executive director. She wants to transform those places into a series of canvasses.

sade lawson painting
Sadé Lawson paints the first lines on her new mural on a wall on North Lamar Boulevard on Thursday, March 5, 2020. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

Likewise, she hopes the school events help to transform the students. “I hope that people really realize that they can make change, that it’s just a small little piece of our city, and we’re going to transform it overnight,” Alexander said. “And they can do the same thing.”

The foundation’s week of events surrounding public art wraps up Tuesday, which is also when both murals are scheduled to be complete.

Lawson hopes her artwork teaches the next generation of artists the value of overcoming obstacles and looking at walls in their lives differently.

“Life has ups and downs,” she said, “so, as long as you go back, just stick with it.”

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