New Milford teen creates diversity mural at Youth Agency

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

NEW MILFORD — A mural that a teen recently painted inside the New Milford Youth Agency was inspired by Black Lives Matter.

The 10-by-9-foot multicolored mural of children playing in a field was drawn by Olivia Arasim. Diversity is its theme, said the New Milford High School 11th grader.

“The mural is of different people of different backgrounds in our community having fun and enjoying the community that we have,” Arasim said. “I wanted to display the diversity in our community for younger generations to see.”

The New Milford Youth Agency, at 2 Pickett District Road, creates, coordinates and fosters programs that promote protection, welfare, and well-being of young people in town.

Arasim said the Black Lives Matter movement has influenced her art.

“I was in a BLM march in town in New Milford a few weeks before I painted the mural,” she said.

Shortly after that, Arasim’s mother saw a posting on social media that the Youth Agency was looking for a volunteer to paint the mural.

“So I took up the offer,” Arasim said.

She said she had a choice of creating a mural on any topic. Initially, she submitted two drafts — one on diversity and the other of hills in New Milford.

The Youth Agency selected the diversity design.

Arasim worked on the mural for 12 hours, splitting up her time over three days.

She said she didn’t include facial features on the children in the mural because she wanted “to leave it open for people to not look at the little details but can interpret it how they want. There’s a lot of different ways people can perceive diversity in the community, but I wanted to keep it very simple and also show part of New Milford — the nature aspect of the town, with the bright green grass and pretty blue skies.”

While Arasim has been drawing since elementary school — having taken several art classes — she never had any formal art training.

She said she enjoys drawing people, landscapes and nature, and likes a variety of mediums, such as watercolor and pastels.

Another painting she has recently completed is of a landscape of Italy, where her mother is from.

“She really loves Italy so I just like to paint it for her,” said Arasim, adding the landscape is hanging in her living room.

When drawing the mural, she said the most challenging part was thinking of how she wanted to display her idea and make her theme clear.

The mural “definitely touches on ongoing issues,” she said.

When looking at the mural, she said she wants others to know “there are people who are of color and they deserve to be represented in murals and in all art.”