Immigrant teens create ‘Home’ at Art Base

Alex works on his self portrait for the mural his class is creating on November 2 at the Art Base in Basalt.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

In a collaboration between the Art Base and Basalt High School, a group of newcomers to the United States and the Basalt area have made a mural for the exhibition “Home: Unpacking Self and Place.”

The exhibition opens today with a reception running from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Art Base.

Beginning at the opening, locals will be invited to add to the mural and explore ideas and definition of home in this mural — coloring in portions of the landscape and writing about conceptions of home.

The teens who’ve made the mural are all enrolled in the high school’s English Language Development program — all of them arrived in the U.S. in recent months from Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, many after arduous journeys separated from their families. Before undertaking this ambitious project with Basalt High teacher Leticia Guzman-Ingram and artist Ajax Axe, most of the students had never taken an art class.

In the mural, they’ve created personalized houses and also self-portraits to explore ideas of belonging, place and home as they settle in the Roaring Fork Valley. They’ve also written about their work and themselves.

An innovative effort to foster community through art, welcome newcomers to the valley and build bridges between the midvalley’s Spanish- and English-speaking residents, “Home” promises to be a high point of the autumn arts calendar.

“The community is coming together to welcome them and make them feel safe,” Guzman-Ingram said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The Art Base and Basalt High are planning to make the mural project an annual tradition for newcomers to the area.

“Home” will remain on view through Dec. 22 at the Art Base as visual responses from the community will be added to it. The mural will also be a centerpiece of Basalt High’s annual welcoming Thanksgiving dinner for immigrants on Nov. 14.


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