“Do what you’re passionate about.” This advice from a Hamilton alum inspired America Grafton ’24 to create the Mojave Art Collective, a project that combines her interests in art and the environment. Based in Grafton’s hometown of Boulder City, Nev., the collective will feature conservation-oriented murals with the goal of educating the community on endangered and at-risk species in the area.
Grafton’s work, which is being done through Hamilton’s Joan Hinde Stewart Career Development Program, centers around murals for which she will be partnering with other local artists. To get the project started, she plans to paint the first mural herself, drawing on skills developed in the past year. Stuck at home during quarantine, Grafton said she “painted a back wall, the bathroom, the front door … I really enjoyed it.”
Hometown: Boulder City, Nev.
High School: Boulder City High School
For the collective’s murals, the tentative plan is to include a rendering of the species, the artist’s signature, and some extra information that goes beyond simply identifying what is endangered or at-risk. “One artist had the idea of writing why they’re endangered — losing habitat due to drought, human involvement in some way,” Grafton said. “That would point to reason much more directly than just ‘protect my species.’”
In addition to the murals, Grafton is hosting a series of lectures on conservation at the Boulder City Public Library. The three planned talks are tailored to specific age ranges: Conservation Basics for ages 2-8; Developing an Understanding for ages 9-13; and Applying Environmental Conservation for ages 14 and older. Dates and times for these events can be found on the Mojave Art Collective website.
The talks will also include an art component, in order to get attendees and non-artists involved with the creative side of the collective’s work. Grafton is meeting with seniors in the community as well, with whom she plans to “make a Lake Mead of endangered fish — have a big poster board with water and then have the seniors create their own little fish.”
Finding locations for the art installations, which would have to be on the buildings of private businesses, has been somewhat difficult. But it’s not as though the community has been resistant to the collective; in fact, Grafton said that she has “only heard good things.” Many people are excited about the beautification aspect brought by the murals, she explained, but others — especially those in scientific disciplines — have reached out to express their appreciation for the environmental awareness the project will promote.