The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Youth Services Department’s Art Mentorship Program is creating new opportunities for youth to become involved in creating art in the Community.
After School Program Youth Development Specialist Natasha Martinez said that the latest art installation at the VA II neighborhood in December ensured that even those who aren’t currently enrolled in the program had the opportunity to benefit from the Community’s resources.
“We wanted to be inclusive and make these resources available to all, regardless of their participation in our Mentorship Program,” said Martinez.
The initial plan by the Mentorship Program was to host an introductory spray-painting mural event open to the Community’s youth; however, with the VA II clubhouse undergoing renovations, the program reached out to supportive contacts at Public Works for another option.
Impressed by past mural projects at the VA II clubhouse and the Salt River Justice building, Public Works extended the group an offer to paint murals on the restrooms at both the VA I and VA II parks.
“Our aim was to showcase elements found in the Salt River region, including saguaro cactuses, a cactus wren, majestic mountains and the breathtaking sunsets that grace the area,” said Martinez.
“To infuse a vibrant urban touch, we incorporated graffiti into the mural, featuring the O’odham word jeved, meaning land, within the mountain.”
Martinez said the project provided a collaborative opportunity for both first-time painters and youth with prior experience to come together. Older participants with more painting experience guided and demonstrated the use of spray cans to those who were newer to the process throughout the project, she said.
The cans of spray paint had special tips that controlled the size of the paint spray as it was applied on surfaces. Youth were equipped with gloves, masks and stepladders during the activity.
Martinez said that painting murals fosters artistic and creative expression, Community engagement, and a sense of pride—not only for the kids, but also for the Community members who get to pass by the mural every day.
“These murals serve as a visual representation of shared stories, values and culture, and I hope that they have a positive impact on the Community,” Martinez said.