Chicago artist Dwight White with middle school participants from BUILD’s art program at the mural unveiling on Oct. 12. | Francia Garcia Hernandez

When young people arrive at BUILD’s South Austin campus, they will see faces resembling theirs on the new mural at the northwest corner of its main building.

“I wanted to put up youthful faces looking inspired, looking determined, looking passionate,” said Chicago artist Dwight White at the mural unveiling on Oct. 12. “I feel like that’s what is inside of that building.”

Later that evening, about a dozen middle school participants in BUILD’s art program demonstrated their passion and determination during a master class in mural making led by White.

BUILD’s arts programs were initially created to divert young people from participating in gangs, offering them a space to learn new skills and be creative, said Rick Miranda, manager of the arts academy.

Today, they continue to provide free opportunities for nearly 70 local middle and high schoolers to learn, incorporating art and STEM with classes like fashion design, podcasting and music, woodworking and culinary arts. Program participant Ky’miarra said these programs are an opportunity to “learn new things and see new things in the community they’re in,” an opportunity kids in other neighborhoods take for granted.

At the master class, young people learned from White how to use professional spray paint, how different cap sizes produce different strokes and how to paint straight lines when making a mural.

Young participants enthusiastically took turns to practice and create a monochromatic purple mural on a wooden surface built by participants in the nonprofit’s wood shop program.

“It was hard, but it was good,” said Miair, a student at George Leland elementary school and BUILD’s arts program.

Dashona, also a student at George Leland School, likes the way spray paint “comes out” of the can and “goes everywhere.” The sound of shaking a spray paint can is like ASMR, she said.

“I just like to make a mess,” Dashona said.

It was not the first time students like Miair and Dashona used spray paint, but it was the first time they learned from a renowned local artist.

“It was nice to see the person who made the mural outside,” Dashona said.

White hopes this experience will inspire “one or two future artists,” he said.

“You can use your talents or use your passions to actually be influential, to make a difference, make change and be creative,” he said.

That vision guided White to create a visual “asset” for the community inspired by the community. The mural will be an entry point that evokes emotions and interest upon arriving on the West Side from I-290, he said.

“Creativity drives culture,” White said.