The Future is Free

Take a Behind the Scenes look at how the mural was created, by Departure Point Films

Meet the Young People

Three days a week for four weeks, these five young people came together to imagine and illustrate the more positive future they want for everyone.

Iyana, 15

“I hope this is inspirational to others. I hope this inspires someone to go out and do something positive for the community. ”

Khai, 17

“I feel like public art is going to always be there. It can affect the future. When the police officers look out their window and see the mural I hope they feel challenged to make a change.

Kayla, 14

“I could be a hero to some kids and they could be like us.”

Kidaya, 18

“You don’t have to be a specific age, you don’t have to be a specific color. I think anybody is capable of putting a hand in changing the world.”

Ta’Dreama, 14

“I’m very passionate about art. Being able to professionally paint a mural is never really an opportunity that everybody gets.”

Building a Mural from the Future

From start to finish these young people designed, produced and installed their artwork showing their attainable dream for a prison free future where everyone benefits.

“It’s important to have a mural like this because a lot of kids don’t get the opportunity to do something like this. I really feel like I’m playing a big role in this mural because I get to tell my story. Seeing the mural come to life was like a dream come true.” — Kidaya, 18

“I feel like one day this mural will be something that tourists come to look at. Everybody’s mind isn’t going to be changed, but I think it can change some peoples minds. Because people will see the hard work and dedication that we have put into this project.” — Iyana, 15

“I’ve never spray painted before. My first time with spray painting was here.” — Kayla, 14

“I feel like people will learn that in engaging with this mural there are a lot of other options.” — Khai, 18

“You would normally think that I would never be able to create a city with my own hands, but guess what? I did it.” — Ta’Dreama, 14

“The roses on the mural are my favorite because they remind me of my grandmother.” — Kayla, 14

Bringing the Mural to Life

Young students, in 8th and 9th grade, from Code VA spent a few weeks after install working on coordinating the augmented reality components in addition to the sound and light features.

Jakson, 13 and I. Rodriguez, 14 working on the digital installation with Code VA teacher Zach

“I just want to know, who really got the idea to make a jail for children?” — Iyana, 15

They coded much of the complex code on their own, coming up with their own solutions to problems that arose. Both students were vocal in expressing themselves and sharing their own opinions around supporting prison abolition.

Unveiling Freedom Constellations to the World

On November 6, 2020, RISE for Youth, Code VA and Performing Statistics came together and unveiled Freedom Constellations at RVA First Fridays.

“The most beautiful thing in our future is the amount of happiness everyone will experience. The lack of pain. They’re smiling more, they’re walking with a purpose because they have no stress. They know that things will be okay.” — TaDreama, 14

Each young person spoke and shared moving words on how much this mural meant to them and their hope for a future where no young person is ever locked up.

“I hear happiness in the community and I feel SAFE,

No fear, no violence, no cry’s, no sirens.

I can feel the wind blowing past me and I feel free and at ease.

I smell the air and the love coming from the home cooked meals mothers cook for their children.

We can love ourselves.

We are together.

We are safe

We can shape our future,

We can finally heal

We are free.”

— excerpt from Freedom Constellations

Getting Involved

Getting Involved

QR codes embedded in the mural show viewers how they can get involved in the fight to end youth incarceration.

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