Emerald Street Underpass 

The Emerald Street Underpass is a mural project taking place in the Fall of 2021 and Spring of 2022 through the Mural Arts’ Color Me Back: Same Day Work and Pay Program, an initiative that combines participatory art-making and access to social services in a unique model offering individuals who are experiencing economic insecurity an opportunity to earn wages. 


Envisioned as a garden of rare and resilient plants, the design features hundreds of individual sections of repeating imagery painted by participants of the Color Me Back program. Working from stencils, each participant is encouraged to create their own interpretation of the imagery and leave their unique mark on the mural, resulting in a vibrant array of diverse voices expressed throughout the composition. 


In addition, dozens of free community painting events are being held at partner sites throughout Kensington. Community members are invited to paint freely on mural cloth, writing names of loved ones, meaningful phrases, painting their homes and the El, and generally expressing themselves in a fun and comfortable atmosphere. The materials from these sessions are repurposed and incorporated into the mural. 


The mural weaves together different aspects of the neighborhood. It draws inspiration and input from the residents, the program participants, and the setting itself. It is intended to recognize the individuality of the contributors while celebrating the strength, resilience, and distinct character of the community as a whole. 


If you or someone you know would like to get involved with this program, feel free to reach out: