When residents drive down Broadway Avenue, they can spot bright yellow and orange colors with the words “Where Independence Begins” painted on the side of the Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth building.
As they drive closer, muralist Kristen Soble can be seen working on the mural she started painting at the end of April, after a seven-month delay.
“I’m really glad that we’re finally at this point,” Soble said. “We still have a lot of pieces that we’re working to fall into place, but this project has been really fun and it’s really grown.”
Lighthouse for the Blind is a nonprofit organization that provides services that empower and enhance the lives of people in Fort Worth who are blind or visually impaired so that they can remain self-sufficient, according to its website.
The collaborative mural between Soble and the Lighthouse was slated to begin Sept. 2021 but was delayed as new ideas were introduced during the planning process.
“We started realizing the potential that this had, because it really is going beyond just a mural,” Curtis Rhodes, communications content creator at the Lighthouse, said. “We will be installing talking devices throughout this mural that will allow for an audio description of what is in the section.”
The talking devices will be made out of reprogrammed crosswalk buttons that were donated to the organization by Consolidated Traffic Controls, Inc.
The mural also will feature tactile elements where certain areas will be raised for residents to feel. Lighthouse also is working with Soble to incorporate braille into the piece and QR codes where people can get more information about the elements, Rhodes said.
Lighthouse is one of the largest employers of blind or visually impaired people in Tarrant County.
“The name of the mural is ‘Where Independence Begins’ because that’s a big key part of our mission here,” Rhodes said.
Soble is a local visual artist who started painting professional murals in 2016. She has painted pieces for Near Southside, Inc., One Safe Place, and has frequent collaborations with the Fort Worth Zoo. In 2018, she painted signage for the African Savanna exhibit, and in the summer of 2019 she hand painted signs for the Children’s Ranch.
Last year, Soble was included in Fort Worth Magazine’s Best of 2021.
When designing the mural, Soble wanted to lean into collage art and fun styles from the 1980s. The mural features blind individuals and empowering words like “take the first step” and “to encourage the blind and impaired” throughout. Soble’s inspiration for the color of the mural came from inside the Lighthouse building. She was inspired by the bright pinks, oranges, yellows and greens on the floor.
“When I saw it, I just thought that’s a really great color palette,” Soble said. “I’d like to bring that fun flair out here.”
The Lighthouse’s goal is to have the mural and its interactive elements completed and installed by August.
“It’s just really exciting to be creating something that will give Lighthouse for the Blind more visibility but also to beautify our neighborhood,” Rhodes said.
David Moreno is a spring fellow reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.