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Milwaukee community artist shares special connection to site of her latest mural

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Posted at 5:33 PM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 18:54:48-04

MILWAUKEE — At almost 22 years old, community artist Isabel Castro has completed her latest mural covering a Sixteenth Street Community Health Center Clinic on Milwaukee's south side.

The canvas consists of 43 panels attached to the site on National Avenue. The artwork beautifies an otherwise bland space reaching 18-feet high and 52-feet wide.

"What I wanted it to embrace is showcase self-love and love to others," Castro said.

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She stressed this was not a one-person show. It has taken a lot of people volunteering their time to pull it off.

The mural, bursting with color, depicts some of the clinic's providers along with Mexican folk art. It also includes a tribute to Castro's mother's experience with asthma, by showing a little boy having enough breath to blow a pinwheel.

Altogether, the mural represents the clinics at the heart of a healthy community.

"I wanted it to be very diverse, not just racially or ethnically, but also with age. I really want to represent different stages of life," Castro said.

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Sixteenth Street Clinic officials said their patients are largely from the Hispanic and Latino communities on Milwaukee's south side.

The National Avenue location opened earlier this year, and focuses on behavioral health and substance use services.

"I want them to feel invited. I want them to feel at peace, and I want them to feel welcomed," Castro said.

For as long as she's lived on Milwaukee's south side, Castro has been a patient at Sixteenth Street clinics herself. It is the place where her relatives also go and her friends work.

"It's a place that is a safe place for anyone and everyone, and I think that's what's so special," Castro said. "If I had to choose a word to describe this project, to me it felt like a blessing."

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