Tell us a little about yourself:
My partner, Ala Lee, and I started Murals for Change last Tuesday and it has exploded since then. We both grew up here in Austin and have been best friends since the age of 10.
My name is Monse, I am Mexican but born and raised in Austin. Over the past two years, I have been doing PR & marketing on and off for local businesses here in town. Speaking and getting to meet new people is perhaps one of my favorite things on this planet! With COVID happening (to everyone), this particular project has given me back a sense of unity and power for limitless potential in the future. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, hiking, doing yoga, and traveling.
Where did the idea to work with local business owners and artists to show solidarity with BLM come from?
Ala is currently living in Oakland but came back to the ATX because of Covid-19 and wanted to be closer to her family at this time. She previously worked with WeWork as someone on their creative team; she played several roles, one of them being a muralist that would travel the country to create beautiful works of art. Ala found out that Oakland was doing a temporary mural project and asked if I would be on board to make it happen here. We immediately got to work and went downtown to see what places were boarded up with plywood. We took notes of all of the potential canvas spaces available to call/email each and every one of them the following morning. The first business on board was Stubb’s BBQ! Originally, they had turned down the idea but after some convincing, they joined the project! It was a real blessing; after Stubb’s joined, seven other local businesses followed.
Our aim with this project is to bring citizens together for a creative protest–in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and to show that we don’t tolerate racial discrimination. Art is undeniably powerful! Bringing together local businesses, artists, and Austinites has been extraordinary for building community and furthering the conversation on racism and how it affects the country, as well as Austin.
Are you an Equality Texan? Do you support equal rights for LGBTQ+ people – why?
In high school, the very first club I joined was a GSA club. It was there that I was able to meet a truly compassionate group of people who wanted nothing more than to come together to fight against ANY discrimination and provide a safe space for students having a difficult time.
Also, a very dear loved one is queer. For me, it’s increasingly important to understand what they are feeling to provide comfort in a world that is not kind to Latinx queer folks. Seeing how transgender people are mistreated to the point of murder, makes me very afraid for my family member. I want to be an ally in any way possible better understand and protect them.
What does PRIDE mean to you?
Pride to me means strength–there’s a fearlessness in being exactly who you are. In a world where so much is dictated by what society tells us to be, to defy that in any way, does take a huge amount of courageousness. I admire that a lot and do hope to make people comfortable in their own skin.
Is there anything you would like to promote about you or about your efforts?
That would be lovely! We have two pages:
How would you like white folks to show up for Black and brown people during these times?
We’ve honestly gotten a little bit of a backlash for the project… from close friends who are white. We understand that no effort will be completely flawless but our intentions are clear — keep the people thinking about the movement. The pieces created by the artists will keep the conversation going about racial injustice. Our initial dream was to bring people together by making art — simple, right? We reached out to POC artists, wanting to give them a platform to express their sentiments over the protests/BLM movement. Art can be so much more than a pretty picture! It can be an icebreaker for talking about uncomfortable subjects, it can give an inclusive picture to people who don’t see themselves portrayed in public spaces, etc. We want the community to feel a little uncomfortable; that will force people to address the wrongs in our society and hopefully allow for progress to occur. We want white people to show up AND to keep showing–that’s really all it takes. The conversation must be constant.
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