Muralist likes bringing color into the world
By Jill Alexander
All good things come to those who wait, but Belen Islas has been waiting and waiting.
The Scripps Ranch resident and professional muralist was hoping to start a new and colorful mural project at Jerabek Elementary School, but it’s been a long haul.
The idea to paint a mural at the school came about last year.
“The former principal read the article about me in the Scripps Ranch News and asked if I could do a mural at the school. I was also thinking at the same time that I would like to do one there,” Islas said.
“We’ve been waiting for school officials to give us the green light to start the project since last fall,” she said. “We planned some murals together and I have been working since last semester with the fifth-grade students and most of the school’s staff, designing the murals.”
But the paint brushes are standing still until she gets the go-ahead.
“The school has the money to do it and I’m offering to do certain parts for free, but the process is complicated because you need a permit, and I think in this case the district is trying to remodel some areas. We don’t want to paint the murals and then they are going to get destroyed. It’s a group effort with the kids,” she said.
The first design is called “The Leader in Me.”
“For that mural, the school community and I worked to create a design that represents kids in the school and also ‘Leader in Me’ habits,” she said.
The “Leader in Me” mural will feature elements of the Leader in Me program:
Habit 1: Be proactive (You’re in charge)
Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind (Have a plan)
Habit 3: Put first things first (Work first, then play)
Islas hopes she can contribute to the school as Jerebek is a special place for her family.
“The murals at Jerabek are important to me because our kids spend a considerable part of their lives there. Murals will make the school beautiful and reflect the values of the community. The murals will create a welcoming space and a sense of belonging. They transform simple areas into vibrant and meaningful environments where young minds can thrive,” Islas said.
It’s the school where her daughter attends kindergarten and where her oldest son attended.
Islas painted several murals in Los Angeles where she resided before moving to Scripps Ranch about two years ago.
“Creating murals brings a profound personal fulfillment. It allows me to connect with the community and improve or beautify a place. I use muralism as a tool to make a positive impact on the world around me. Painting murals is a very rich experience. It allows me to make a meaningful social impact and helps me grow as an artist and person,” she said.
The murals started by fluke, Islas said.
“Creating a mural was an unexpected but fortunate turn in my art career. In 2020, I had planned several art shows when the whole world came to a halt because of the pandemic. During that time, I found painting murals to be the answer to my problems,” she said. “Through murals, I found a new sense of purpose which was to bring colors during those dark times and maybe inspire some hope for those who see my work. Since then, I made muralism an essential part of my artistic practice, allowing me to connect with the world around me in a meaningful way.”
For now, the freelance graphic designer is working on other fine arts projects for installations in Los Angeles and hopes to do many in Scripps Ranch.
“Most of my work is collaborating with people, and the community and creating something that reflects them and the place and makes them feel better,” she said. “Scripps Ranch is an amazing place; I want to leave my work here.”