Art Lake City | In Plain Site | Visual Arts

Ruby Chacon’s TRAX Mural Project: Jackson\Euclid TRAX station, 850 W. North Temple

From a 15 Bytes article by Sue Martin on the Airport Line artwork:

Ruby Chacon, who is known as a community activist as well as a gifted painter, was charged with developing a station art project that would involve the diverse community around 850 West, as well as reflect the character of the community. She worked with the Mestizo Institute to help conceive the project using community surveys and interviews. Then, she worked with apprentice artists from the community to actually paint the panels that are part of the art installation.

Young people from the Mestizo Arts and Activism Youth Collective gathered data from surveys and focus groups. They asked members of the community what kinds of symbols and stories best represent them. “We were trying to get from the community the kinds of images that would make them feel comfortable,” Chacon explained. A graduate student in the group compiled the more than 500 responses into reports.

Chacon and her apprentices studied the data reports to determine themes and images. Then they created sketches and studies. Sifting through all the data and creating a visual sense of it was the hardest part of the project, says Chacon. “It could seem overwhelming…so much imagery and so many details.”

Ultimately, they organized images around the past, present, and future of three themes: arts, experiential knowledge and education, and rebuilding Utah. They collaged their images together to form the mural. Once the design was approved, they projected the images on the prepared metal plates and painted them in Chacon’s living room, barely finishing before her lease expired and she had to move.

The resulting art piece is a mural, painted with acrylic on metal and sandwiched between the glass of the windscreen on the station platform. Though the mural is broken into segments, it flows from frame to frame as one image. There are images on both sides of the metal and therefore visible from trains going in both directions. For those passengers arriving and departing trains on that platform, there’s more to see up close: four poems submitted by youth and adults from the community.

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