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COVID-19 mural in northeast Austin spreading message of solidarity – and clean hands

The mural is open to the public to take photos.

AUSTIN, Texas — A local artist has painted a new mural at the St. John's Community Center in northeast Austin in an effort to share a message of hope and a reminder that personal protective behaviors – like washing your hands – can make a difference amid the pandemic.

The muralist, Claudia Berenice Garza, partnered with Austin Public Health (APH) on the design that depicts handwashing and includes the text, "Manos limpias, ¡Austin saludable! ¡La lucha es de todos!", which translates to "Clean hands, healthy Austin! It's everyone's fight!"

"Handwashing will ALWAYS be essential for good health and hygiene and I wanted to focus on that. In terms of the phrasing, the one that fit best, was that of this being everyone's fight," said Garza about her design proposal.

As a painter, Garza has experience in portraiture, photo-realism, contemporary realism, surrealism, abstraction, Mexican folklore and mural work, according to APH. She received an associate of visual arts degree from South Texas College in 2003 and a bachelor of fine arts in drawing and painting in 2005 from the University of Texas-Pan American, now known as University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

She began painting the mural on Dec. 26, 2020, and completed the piece on Jan. 13, 2021. 

The longevity of a mural is typically three to five years, APH said.

"We are excited to share this mural with the community and we hope that it brings a message of positivity and individuals actions having a ripple effect on the health of our community," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard. "We sought out a positive message with a reminder of community and togetherness, even when we cannot be together in person."

APH said its mission is to prevent disease, promote health and protect the well-being of everyone in Austin-Travis County, and art can bring public health messages directly to the people in a way that inspires behavioral change.

The mural is open to the public to take photos. Anyone wishing to take photos at the mural should adhere to gathering restrictions, social distancing and mask-wearing. And, of course, clean your hands often.

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