Arizonan muralist Kayla Newnam has a dream to paint a mural in all 50 states, and recently, that dream got its official start at Desert Ridge Marketplace. Newnam just completed her travel-themed mural in The District, near Barnes & Noble. The colorful masterpiece features swirling tones of red, purple and blue, hot air balloons, wanderlust license plates, and desert landscape. She is currently booking in the Southwest and hopes to be done with 10 states by the end of the year, with the goal to finish all 50 states by 2024. She plans to travel the country in a renovated camper that she also painted herself.

“I’ve had many inspirations for starting this project,” she says. “Initially, I just wanted a trailer to renovate because I love traveling and seeing all of the beautiful places in Arizona. I find a lot of artistic inspiration when I’m camping in different environments and meeting artists outside of my bubble. After I began renovating and painting the camper, the idea evolved into a dream to paint professionally in each state.”

Newnam grew up in a creative household and her parents encouraged her and her siblings to explore all their interests and passions. Art-making was the interest that she stayed consistent with throughout her life, eventually taking her to the Pratt Institute of Art & Design in Brooklyn, New York for painting.

The goal for the mural tour is to connect different communities in a creative way. To Newnam, public art is extremely important because it is meant for everyone, and not confined to a gallery. It gives people a very direct way to connect to the art world and to their own community. She feels that walking into an art gallery can be intimidating, but walking down a mural-filled street shouldn’t be.

“The last few years, people have been quite divided on most fronts,” Newnam says. “My hope for this project is that people from all walks of life will come together and say, ‘Hey that’s cool!’ when looking at a mural in a public space and can begin to relate to each other in a more positive way.”

Join her on her journey across the country by following her Instagram @KaylaNewnam and use the hashtag #OutThereMurals. Be sure to check out her mural at Desert Ridge Marketplace, snap a photo and tag the center on Instagram @desertridge, or use #desertridgemarketplace.