There’s a new mural in Louisville and, for those looking closer, a community reading list.
The evocative artwork was officially celebrated on Saturday night with a community gathering in the alley behind Lucky Pie on Front Street, whose building serves as a brick canvas for the artwork.
Featuring native activist and Colorado historian Ava Hamilton, the mural depicts the least famous and least practical part of Louisville’s history, artist Adri Norris explained.
“The general narrative is that all of this land we’re on is Native American due to westward expansion,” Denver-based Norris said.
The mural was conceptually produced over a year ago by community organization Classrooms For Climate Action. C4CA helps educators, students and the community take action at the local level.
“We were the bridge that brought people together,” explained Tiffany Boyd, C4CA’s Executive Director.
After the previous sustainability-conscious mural on the Lucky Pie wall was painted with “Black Lives Matter” graffiti in 2020, C4CA facilitated conversations between local students and Norris, who produced impactful murals on social justice in Denver, throughout Colorado, and nationally, to create a socially progressive mural that had a deeper connection to Louisville.
According to 2021 census data, Louisville is approximately 85% white and 1% black or African American. Before the mining boom of the 1800s, the land was occupied by native tribes.
Although C4CA was the bridge, Boyd said it was Norris who led the students to explore the stories that shaped Louisville’s particular demographics and collaborated on what the mural should represent.
“She was the one who helped them see that a BLM mural might not resonate with residents,” Boyd said. “We wanted to challenge people and push uncomfortable conversations. Why would we do something with a big heart and a smiling face? We said, ‘Let’s do something for people to say ‘huh?’
In the lower right corner of the mural is a reading list and Norris’ homework for the community, as she explained to the crowd at the symbolic unveiling on Saturday. The figures climbing on the pile of books represent people who want to learn more.
“I use the books to say ‘this is what can happen if you educate yourself and you’re not comfortable with the status quo,'” Norris said. the notion that the most present story is usually not the whole story. So everything that I create, everything that I offer, is a stepping stone. By giving an entire city a playlist, it helps them find the information themselves.