Local artist to paint mural for nonprofit

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A local Latina artist is painting the next installation for the 49507 Project.

Artist Wanda Moreno will paint a mural on the Farmers Insurance building at 2435 Eastern Ave. SE in Grand Rapids on May 2. 

The artwork is part of the 49507 Project led by The Diatribe, a local nonprofit creating art that empowers underrepresented young people by creating art that raises awareness for social issues and helps facilitate community change. 

The 49507 Project is an antiracist project created by and for people of color. The project has commissioned a series of eight public murals by artists of color. The murals will be collaborative art pieces representing the communities in which they are displayed. The project takes place in majority Black and brown neighborhoods throughout Garfield Park. 

“The 49507 Project is the place to begin a more extensive base of representation,” Moreno said.

Moreno is a freelance illustrator based in Wyoming. She originally is from Mexico, but has lived in Michigan for the majority of her life and became a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient in 2014. 

Moreno studied fine arts at Grand Rapids Community College and currently is in her senior year of a bachelor’s degree in illustration from Kendall College of Art and Design. 

Moreno described her art style as a work in progress. 

“I am still working on my style and will continue exploring in the years to come, but I tend to gravitate (toward) realism in my work,” she said. “I currently take a lot of inspiration from my 3-year-old son, who is so full of energy.”

Moreno intends for her art to represent her struggle with personal identity and sense of community in a wordless form. This will be her first mural.

“When I reflect on my life experiences, background and the world itself, I ask myself if I am ready to explore those thoughts and expand on them to give meaning to my work,” Moreno said. “When I do that, I love my work more and feel motivated to finish it for others to see.

I hope the finished mural sparks an emotional connection to community members living there to feel proud of where they live because it reflects them.” 

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