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Empowering Youth Through Public Art: Introducing Glass Wing Mural Co.

There’s a profound connection between art and community—and Glass Wing Mural Co. is helping to bring it to life.  

Founded by Mary Christensen, Kaya Rosa, and Elizabeth Zindler, Glass Wing Mural Co. is a Sonoma County-based arts organization committed to empowering our communities through public artwork including mural commissions, restorations and touch-ups of existing work, teaching and workshops, and emerging artist mentorship. 

Together, the trio is on a mission to empower creatives and locals while nurturing the talents of young and emerging artists. Through hands-on experiences, they provide a platform for artistic expression, teaching, learning, and personal growth.

We spoke with Mary, Kaya, and Elizabeth to learn more about Glass Wing Mural Co., their work, and the impact of public art on young people and the community at large.

SOMO Village: Can you tell us a bit about your journeys and how the concept for Glass Wing Mural Co. came to be? 

Kaya Rose: We started working together two years ago. Elizabeth and I worked together at an arts organization in Santa Rosa, and Mary came on about six months later. We were all formally trained by established artists throughout Sonoma County who taught us how to do public art and work with schools and members of the community. We collectively enjoyed it, so decided to go out on our own. 

Mary Christensen: My background is that I’ve always worked with kids. I’ve coached at a Boys and Girls Club and as an art teacher—just always really enjoying the aspect of mentoring kids through art. I go to Santa Rosa Junior College now and am majoring in art. I do a lot of art in my own time and am now focusing on painting murals as part of this initiative. 

Elizabeth Zindler: My background is pretty similar—I also go to the JC and am a studio arts major. I worked at the arts organization for a couple of years, working as an apprentice under other artists. I eventually worked my way up to be one of the lead artists in that organization and have always enjoyed teaching teens and younger kids. 

Kaya: And I’m not at the JC… I did go to art school for a couple of years, but that was before the pandemic and it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue online. But that’s when I found mural work and was taken in by all these artists. I found an apprenticeship role, which has been really cool. I come from a small community, so it’s very much everyone taking care of each other and working with people of all ages—I love that element about this work. You can do murals on your own, but it’s not as fun as creating them with others and having that mentorship aspect.  

And what are the benefits of getting young people involved in public art? 

Kaya: It’s incredibly empowering. When you take a step back and look at this massive mural that you’re part of, it’s so cool. For teenagers, who have so much going on all the time, it’s so impactful for them to be part of this huge process where people around are so impressed with the outcome. 

Mary: It’s also very validating for the kids and teens we work with—they’re getting paid for the work and they get to be part of the whole experience. Having that hands-on opportunity is something you can take with you and is a really special thing to be part of. 

This process is different from being in a classroom with a huge group of kids. Instead, it’s more one-on-one or small groups, where people can really connect and learn together. As mentors, we can create a community for the kids where they feel validated and see artists being successful in their work. 

Kaya: Another benefit is seeing what kind of opportunities there are. No one tells you what job opportunities there are. It’s either becoming a teacher or trying to sell your own work and struggling to make money. But it’s exciting to be out there and show that there are other opportunities to be a working artist and get paid for something that you love to do. 

How do you go about winning mural projects? Do you proactively approach the community or building owners to pitch an idea? Or are they coming to you? 

Kaya: In terms of getting projects, it’s kind of all of the above—some approach us, we reach out or follow up, or people find us through other connections. A few times, we’ve approached people with different ideas, but often when I go out to do projects I just mention it and people are often immediately interested. 

From there, it’s all about following up on any interest. 

And the more people in our lives and our communities know what we’re doing, the more we get approached, too. 

What does your creative process look like? 

Kaya: In terms of our design process, we try to work with the client as much as possible to see what they really want and would be interested in. We also want to get the perspective of people who live in that community if it’s not our own community. We want it to be a reflection of who they actually are and what they want. 

The process is very collaborative—we go around the table and brainstorm ideas and do sketches to get the ideas out there. 

Once you have the design in mind, what does the actual creation of the mural look like? When it comes to the young artists you work with, how do you get them involved in the process? 

Mary: The mural process takes so much prep work, but once you’re there painting it is just go, go, go. So, our longest mural took almost a year for the whole process, but often the actual painting can happen in as little as a day after doing all the prep work.  

Kaya: And since we’re working with kids, we need to have everything planned ahead of time. We want to be able to teach and mentor them, not just throw them in there to do their thing. It’s important that everyone is benefiting from the experience and it’s not a rushed thing. 

Mary: We also want to ensure that everyone has enough attention and guidance during the creation part, so we pair up one or two people per artist so everyone is given attention and ensure that things are going according to the plan and vision. 

How can people reach out to work with you? 

Kaya: The best way to get involved is to reach out to us by email and we can start a conversation about what you’re looking for! 

You can stay up to date with Glass Wing Mural Co.’s work at or on Instagram @glasswingmuralco. To connect, contact them by email at

If you’re looking for a community that embraces public art and puts people and sustainability at the heart of everything, download our project brief to see if SOMO Village is the right place for you. 

About Glass Wing Mural Co.

Glass Wing Mural Co. is the creation of three visionary friends determined to build community through art. Mary Christensen, Kaya Rose, and Elizabeth Zindler founded Glass Wing with a shared passion for art and a desire to transform public spaces. This emerging mural company has set out on a mission to beautify their surroundings from the inside out.

It is a part of our mission to collaborate with local organizations, youth centers, and educational institutions to foster community involvement, inviting all to share their own stories and ideas and have a hand in creation. We hope this inclusive approach makes our murals not only leave a lasting impact but also represent the collective identity and aspirations of those who call that neighborhood home.

As Glass Wing Mural Co. is beginning their journey and painting their way into the hearts of communities, we hope we can gain your support and collaboration.

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