As we’ve noticed in the more recent times, amidst moments that we have never experienced before, unity is a scarce word that only seems to become rarer as time continues. Amongst Yakima’s buildings rests a piece of art that reminds us of our human side — our support, love, community and unity as one.
Full of rich color, beautiful line work, and concepts unique to each artist, the Unidad Mural is Yakima’s newest and most amazing piece of public art standing.
The Unidad/Unity Mural is found at 501 W Lincoln Avenue, behind the Dollar Stretcher. Each artist who worked on the mural painted unique paintings on a 5×6 panel. The individual paintings stretch across the large UNITY, and UNIDAD is spelled above. Each panel is beautifully painted by the artists who worked on this public piece.
Ash Cardenas, the organizer and host of All Mujeres Murals, the all-female team of artists that created the piece, expresses the inspiration behind this mural.
“What UNIDAD means is being equal and as one,” says Cardenas. “A unit. No matter the size, age, looks, or even color. It also means putting in the same amount of work everyone is putting in. That’s where teamwork plays in, and overall, it means sisterhood! Familia.”
Yakima continues to encourage equality for all folks in the community, with a significant focus on equal representation for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people all over the county and nearby.
“Solidarity with shared conditions and experiences,” Cardenas explains. “We need more leaders who can relate to the BIPOC community in and around Yakima. Understand the city and bring in beauty with balance and without segregation.”
Cardenas is not only the organizer; she is also an artist and contributed her talents to the mural.
“It was really hard for me to paint the first few days,” says Cardenas. “I started over three times.”
Her efforts were not singular, and the mural truly is the work of many. “The artists/volunteers who lent me their time and hands to help me, thank you,” says Cardenas. “Betsy, Leticia, Amanda, Rosie, Cindy, Raevyn, Bashi, Elizabeth, Esme, Tori, Carmen, Maddie, Maria, Helen, Carlos, Gabriel, and Kiara, their willingness to help instantly inspired me.”
“I saw me within them, so I decided to draw in colors from the other artists surrounding me on each side of my panel and just played through my emotions with beautiful colors lined up while having some of the artists add to my panel,” Cardenas adds. “It almost felt like unifying a bit of their work with mine. I lastly tied in a neon third eye in the center of the panel to represent spiritual presence.”
One artist, Raevyn Renée Heneghen, expresses what unity means to her.
“Unity is togetherness, sisterhood, community, friendship,” says Heneghen. “Unity is what brought us together, and unity is what will keep our group and community thriving. Unity is the only way for our society to see peace and love. Unity is bringing each other up higher and encouraging ourselves and each other to be better.”
Her inspiration for her contribution to the mural was to highlight some of the current struggles of the Native people of the area.
“There was a recent Dateline about the missing and murdered Indigenous women of the Yakama Nation,” says Heneghen. “They are still a part of this community. Their people are missing them, who love them. They are part of this community, and they are part of us. I felt it truly fit with the theme of unity and wanted to bring light to a specific Yakima issue.”
The theme of unity was felt by many involved with the mural. “During this project, unity meant collaborating with and empowering other mujeres chingonas,” says fellow artist Iris S. “I think we all came away with the feeling of creating something that speaks to that for all women. What inspired me to paint this panel was the coming together of so many mujeres in one spot, creating an amazing and lasting work of art. But also, the two chingonas in my life — my mom and grandma.”
Every artist had a fantastic contribution to this public art, and as a grand finale to their astounding mural, a second wall was added, with a large “All Mujeres Murals” spelled across the entire wall length.
In the middle “L” of all stands the colors of the LGBTQ+ flags, including the colors of the most recent version of the pride flag, which includes colors that represent transgender individuals and BIPOC individuals in the community.
Those who live in Yakima continue to press the importance of education and equality amongst our community. For generations, this land has harbored one of the most culturally diverse populations in such a small town.
It is essential to embrace what makes us unique and use it to our advantage more than ever — to push and demand equal opportunity.
When asked, anonymous community members spoke that “Yakima has the most amazing potential to become a place where we can thrive as a true and honest community.”
This painting is a beacon of hope. That hope symbolizes the dream that Yakima will soon become somewhere everybody is seen as a valued member of the community. It represents a place where we become driven forward by love and family, good health, and good fortune by equality and by love.
Come and stop anytime to admire this piece of art, this piece of expression, this piece of love. It’s a piece that calls out the wants and desires of those who have called this place home. Yakima is our home. With this mural, we become a step closer to our home becoming a place for all.
If you are interested in visiting the artists behind this outstanding mural, check out their Instagram @AMMurals. There, you can find the progress behind the art, see all the team members and find their art, plus, keep an eye out for future pieces.