Beyond the Wall: An Immigrant Youth Mural Unveiling

KIND clients are creating murals with Artolution to share their stories of flight and to promote healing and resilience

KIND clients are working with the youth arts organization Artolution on a program called Beyond the Wall, through which immigrant and refugee teenagers, many of whom fled violence in Central America and are clients of KIND, design and paint a large-scale public mural to reflect on their experiences and create an accompanying performance.

KIND clients in New York City worked daily for nearly a month with Artolution to create a mural at 52 Avenue A (corner of 4th Street).

The clients used their stories of fleeing danger and coming to the U.S. alone as inspiration.

First, each child created a character to represent themselves and a a mask for the character. Then, they painted their character on the mural.

They also worked with Artolution artists to create a performance as a group to share their collective stories.

KIND clients said they felt great power in telling their stories themselves.

And learned about art, movement, and technology as ways to express themselves in ways they never dreamed of before.

“It felt incredible [to express my story] because I never had done that before. I got lost in myself and was able to show people what I was capable of. [The project] really helps in a lot of things. It’s like a way to help people who have anxiety and depression to express themselves while doing something they like. It’s a moment to enjoy your dream.” - Talia

“It was a very beautiful experience, learning new things, about art, and for me it was also like therapy.” - Anonymous

“My favorite part was painting the wall because we got to play with the paint and share ideas about how to show our characters. It was fun because we didn’t just make a character up but we also got to give it a back story. I don’t normally perform so I was nervous, but people were very supportive, which boosted my confidence a lot.” - Mia

“[I learned about] speaking in public and letting go of fear. I felt like I was giving a part of my experience, like I was able to give some motivation to other kids like me. It was beautiful. At the beginning I felt a little, well, intimidated. But at the same time liberated. Everyone in the world goes through things, but I had the chance to share my story.” - Anonymous

“At the beginning [of the performance], I felt nervous. I was afraid, insecure, with sorrow. But the people from Artolution were amazing. They told us to take the microphone and imagine that we were speaking alone, by ourselves. When I took the mic, I felt some sorrow but I did what they told us and it helped me. After I felt happy. I was able to get to know the public and also give a piece of our experience, or how we came here the journey. It was beautiful.” - Anonymous

Beyond the Wall is led by Artolution’s Co-Founder/ Co-Director and muralist Joel Bergner, and performance artists CJ Thomas, Rosemary Koesling and Akil Apollo Davis.

Artolution is an international, community-based public art organization based in New York City that seeks to ignite social change through collaborative art-making, bringing together diverse communities in the face of conflict and social exclusion in order to address the trauma and challenges that they face.

The program offers the opportunity for our clients to heal and celebrate, in community, their full selves.