A new mural in Austin features the faces of students who attend St. Angela School, 1332 N. Massasoit Ave. The public piece by artist Ally Braden was completed around Thanksgiving, said Lynn Frederick, St. Angela’s director of advancement.

“The children who are pictured in the mural are students or former students,” said Frederick. “It represents joy and a strong sense of community in the school.”

St. Angela was formerly connected to St. Angela Parish before the church closed in 2005. In 2017, the Archdiocese of Chicago, who owned the church buildings, had demolished to make way for green space for Angela School students.

Frederick said Braden “spent some very cold days” painting the mural, a process that lasted nearly five weeks.

“The kids think it’s very cool,” Frederick said. “They loved watching here. They’d be out for recess and would know that Ms. Ally was on her lift. Sometimes, she would come down and answer their questions.”

Frederick said she believes the mural is a “gift to the neighborhood. It’s a sign of our commitment that we’re going to stay. We think it represents how much we appreciate the neighborhood that we’re in.”

Xaria Johnson Rickett, 11, is one of the students whose face showed up on the mural.

“People kept saying that it looks like me and I kept on saying, ‘No it doesn’t,’ until I learned it was me,” Rickett said.

“It was a huge surprise, said Amares Chambliss, 13, whose face is also depicted on the mural. “I didn’t even know.”

Malia Jones, 13, said she was also shocked that her face was on such large public artwork. She said when she told her family that her visage was featured, her relatives put things in perspective.

“They were like, ‘Well, of course, because you have been there a long time.’ I’ve been here since I was 3 years old.”

CONTACT: shanel@growingcommunitymedia.org