Press release from Arts AVL:
This week, work on Buncombe County’s Creative Equity Mural Project begins. Lead artist Leslie Reynalte-Llanco (Sketchonic Design) will paint the first of three walls designated for the project at the Buncombe County Tax Department (94 Coxe Ave.). The work should be completed later this summer. The mural will feature 12 faces representing Latino community members, and is approximately 2,590 square feet in size. A message in the center of the mural will proclaim “Eres un Orgullo Latino,” translated in English as “You are Latin Pride.”
“This project has a big significance for me,” shares Reynalte-Llanco. “It has not only been the turning point of my career as an artist but it also holds a lot of weight in its message (especially when I think about the recent events happening in the U.S. right now). Immigrants of all backgrounds are the backbone of this country. Immigration fuels the economy. In this mural, I am highlighting the Latino community in Asheville, the city they call home.”
Pictured members of the community include a child, a young woman, a father figure, a university graduate, someone who is non-binary, an Afro-Latino man, a grandmother who represents generations of immigrants, a mother, a “Lasian” (Latin-Asian) woman, and an Indigenous woman.
Asheville artists Kathryn Crawford and Gus Cutty will mentor Reynalte-Llanco as she completes the mural, offering logistical support and ensuring, as Crawford notes, “that she’s set up for success for any murals she wants to do in the future.”
For Cutty, the opportunity to support Reynalte-Llanco is the most exciting part of the project. “I’ve always felt that the Asheville that people perceive is not the full picture of its residents,” he says. “The mural industry can be complicated and difficult to navigate, so It’s important to me to be able to help the next generation of Asheville wall artists learn the skills to be able to share the voices that make Asheville beautiful.”
ArtsAVL is also offering strategic support to Reynalte-Llanco and her team. “ArtsAVL is excited about this Country initiative, and we are happy to be able to support Leslie through this process,” says Executive Director Katie Cornell.
All murals in the project center on themes of racial equity, reconciliation, and restoration. The final artists were narrowed down from a pool of 21, and awards were granted based on criteria including artistic reflection of people and place, positive contribution to the community, vendor experience, and project implementation.
“I’m really excited about the Creative Equity Mural Project because art gives us a tangible way to promote our County values while beautifying public spaces,” says County Strategic Partnerships Director Rachael Sawyer Nygaard.
Reynalte-Llanco hopes the project will foster unity by inspiring viewers to think about perspectives other than their own. “I would hope that whenever someone drives or walks past this large work, they stop to think about the families who are of different backgrounds than they are, the ones that they share this beautiful mountain town with.”
Ultimately, the mural celebrates community. “To those who are a part of the Latino community, this is for you,” she continues. “I hope you can find yourself represented in the artwork. Even through all of the hardships, you remain radiant. Never forget, ‘Eres un orgullo latino’!”
Learn more about the Buncombe County Equity Mural Project here.