JOY - purposeful placemaking project

Joy | 2022 | Erie, PA.


The largest mural painted by Ana Balcazar at the time of its creation. It is also the first mural by Ana in the United States.

Artist Statement:
I wanted to bring beauty and meaning to the community with my mural. My goal was to illustrate something that would make people smile. My aim with this mural is to empowered kids to dream about their future - as imagination is one of the most basic stones that can drive and motivate a young mind. Regardless of someone´s economic or racial background, everyone has the capability to dream and imagine.

This mural is on a safe walking route to Pfeiffer-Burleigh elementary School. I wanted to crate a mural that represents the diversity present in the neighborhood through a joyful image. There is a large Asian population living in the surrounding neighborhood, many of whom arrived in Erie as refugees from Bhutan and Nepal, and I want children to identify  with the subject in the mural.

I choose bright colores and to portray a joyful child. Butterflies and flowers are coming to life from an open book, which reinforces the theme that imagination and education are transformative. The butterflies and flowers are also a statement about migration, diversity and the fragility of life. The mural includes a monarch butterfly, the most iconic and common butterfly, which sadly was declared endangered this year.

Location: 562 East 12th Street (South and east facing walls)
Artist: Ana Balcazar (Peru)
Artist assistants: Calie Maloney, Precious Thompson, Raina Harden, and Jamarion Hobson.
Assistance with prepping the building was provided by Court Gould.
Funding Provided by: City of Erie, Erie Insurance, And the Erie Community Foundation.
Curated by: Patrick Fisher of Erie Arts & Culture.

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