Murals highlight healing after trauma

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Walk by the downtown transit center over the next two weeks and a you'll see a few murals.

Behind each drawing or painting is the story of an Alaskan who has a story of hope and healing after adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs.

For Amy Urbach, part of that included a mother who used drugs.

Urbach grew up and became hooked on meth herself, but she has been clean since the end of 2013. Now, a drawing of her smiling face superimposed over an ocean view from Homer greets anyone passing by the transit center who cares to look.

"I never thought I would see something like this at the transit center because in my addiction, really it would've been like a wanted poster or an '86'd list,' but I'm grateful that it's about this instead of something negative," Urbach said.

Alaskan based artist Austin Parkhill met with Amy and asked her about her story before creating the mural. It's part of a project supported by the Alaska Children's Trust and coordinated by painter Steve Gordon.

"One of the things that I talked to him about is that my peaceful place is the ocean, so I really like that he incorporated that. The fact that my face is transparent is really cool to me because I'm transparent with my recovery," Urbach said.

In addition to symbolism within the piece, there are also written messages communicating Amy's story.

"There's actually a couple of messages that you can't see unless you look close. In the hoodie, in the hood there's a spot that says 'work in progress' and another little spot that says 'unfinished.' And that's so true," Urbach said. "I'm always a work in progress, I always am going to be."

In her years of sobriety, Urbach has grown to take on a mentor role for other people fighting addiction. She has even been able to help her son beat addiction.

The mural is now just one more way of communicating hope.

"There is hope. You can get clean and stay clean, whatever that looks like," Urbach said. "I have my way and I know a lot of other people that do it a lot of different ways, but it is possible."

In addition to the mural depicting Urbach, six other murals were created by 20 artists. The pieces will be touring the Anchorage area over the coming months. You can view the artwork at the following locations:

Feb. 8 - March 8: Downtown Transit Center
March 8-9: Dena'ina Center
March 11 - April 1: University of Alaska Anchorage
April 1 - 30: Anchorage Public Library
May: Mat-Su Health Foundation

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