The #KiarahFreshWall

14 3Arts supporters
$2,600 raised of $2,500 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on September 18, 2015
    • 104% contributed

The #KiarahFreshWall is a memorial graffiti mural in honor of Kiarah Lazo, who tragically passed away on March 30, 2015. At the young age of 23, Kiarah was enrolled at Columbia College Chicago and had dreams of becoming a graffiti art educator. She was immersed in graffiti art, poetry, and hip hop music. This project is personally significant to me because Kiarah’s father, Rolis (Rolando), and I are childhood friends from Pilsen. I met Kiarah when she was just born. I’ve been asked to paint this mural by the family and I hope that it will help them along with their healing process. The mural site has been secured and is located on the very block where Kiarah and her family have lived in the neighborhood. As an extension of my community arts practice, I am integrating a public participatory component so that Kiarah’s family, friends, and art community can have an opportunity to honor her accomplishments and ambitions. I plan to design the mural with her family’s input. Your contribution will help me realize this project by covering supplies, materials, youth stipends, and artist time. Your support of this project will be an investment in radical arts education.

About This Project

I began painting graffiti in 1989 when I was 13 years old. Over the years, I have been able to identify the benefits of graffiti as a social practice and a space for community. Particularly poignant for marginalized populations in urban contexts, the practice of graffiti has the potential to give youth a sense of agency, autonomy, and mobilization. Personally, I have been able to utilize these frameworks and apply them to other contexts and challenges in my life. These are the transformative experiences that I aim to help my students bring to light for themselves.      

As an arts educator, I focus on building rapport with young people. I understand that people walk into my spaces on a voluntary basis, so it’s important for me that I get to know everyone and that everyone gets to know each other. Only then can we engage in an educational, artistic journey together. As part of my work in the community, I recently launched the Graffiti Institute as a way to build capacity for young people to visually interpret their own voices and interests through a graffiti vernacular. We offer access to space, materials, and expertise from established practitioners in our programs.  

I saw Kiarah about a year ago at the 1st Annual Splash event, an all-female graffiti artist painting jam. She introduced herself to me as Rolis’ daughter, and I immediately remembered meeting her as a baby. I later learned of Kiarah’s death when her dad called me this past April. Even though I only spoke with Kiarah that one time, he called to thank me for the positive impression I had made on his daughter. He and I haven’t kept in touch for about 20 years, but he began learning about my work in art and art education while he was looking through Kiarah’s belongings.

This mural has the capacity to do many things: help a childhood friend share how much his daughter means to him; help a community heal and celebrate a young artist’s life; and serve as a programmatic opportunity for Graffiti Institute because the project will directly inform how we develop our approach to memorial murals and public participation in future projects. 

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $20
    Your name listed on as a “Bronze” sponsor ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Your name listed on as a “Silver” sponsor, and an 8"x10" photo of the final mural ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Your name listed as a “Gold” sponsor, painted in the mural and on, and an 8"x10" photo of the final mural. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $200
    A 2-hour private lesson at Graffiti Institute with Kane One, plus “Gold” sponsor status. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Company logo sponsorship with your logo painted in the mural. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)

Miguel "Kane One" Aguilar

Siragusa Foundation Awardee

Artist, educator, and researcher Miguel "Kane One" Aguilar has been painting graffiti in Chicago since 1989. He founded Graffiti Institute in 2012, and in 2013 curated "Outside In: The Mexican-American Street Art Movement in Chicago" at the National Museum of …

View Miguel "Kane One" Aguilar's profile
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    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Gloria Talamantes

    • Tailah Jenae Lazo

    • Stephanie Arone

    • drea howenstein

    • Heather Gilbert

    • Tubs War

    • Ray Yang

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Chris Silva

    • Kenny Haas

    • Belinda Jones

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Cecilia and Michael Chavez

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council