Eden Andrulaitis in front of her new mural, which was unveiled at Peabody school on April 28. | Photo: Kelly Sweda

When it comes to the education of our youth, supporting artistic creativity at schools and inside classrooms is of utmost importance. Providing our youth a creative outlet allows them not only freedom of expression but also the ability to explore their unique ideas, foster their imaginations, and learn about the world we live in. Such values are held by Peabody Charter School in Santa Barbara, where they recently unveiled a new public art mural on their campus last Friday — and they even commissioned one of their former students, Eden Andrulaitis, to paint it!

“I came into this as an 18-year-old self-taught artist with no previous experience,” said Andrulaitis about being able to paint for her alma mater. “To get an opportunity like this is one thing, but to work with people who trust you and offer you patience and allow you to learn is another. It was definitely a full circle moment.”

Part of artist Eden Andrulaitis’s new mural at Peabody School | Credit: Kelly Sweda

As a student at an art-focused school, Andrulaitis’s experience at Peabody influenced her to pursue art, as she had always enjoyed expressing herself creatively from a young age. However, it was in high school when Andrulaitis developed depression and anxiety that she discovered that her art was also a way to communicate thoughts she found difficult to verbalize. She feels that her struggles, along with her passion for her artistry, are what drove her to become the artist she is today.

For the mural, Andrulaitis was largely inspired by her own journey at Peabody. Highlighting what makes Peabody special with vibrant colors and scenes, the 640-square-foot mural took her almost one year to complete. Andrulaitis — who had never done a project at this scale before — had to develop a budget, present her ideas to the school board, and then execute them.

“I took a giant leap when I took this on and really had to figure it out as I went along,” she said about what it was like for her to take on the project. At the time she was asked to do the mural, she was still a senior in high school. “The process was long and difficult but my passion drove me to challenge myself and I really hope I did my community proud.”

With the mural finally finished and on display for the public, Andrulaitis hopes that it will serve as inspiration for the current students at Peabody. While she painted, she had the opportunity to interact with many of the students there, which further motivated her as she wanted to involve them in the process and inspiration for the mural that represents them. And as the years go on and students continue to pass through the Peabody Charter, Andrulaitis’s work will surely continue to stand proudly and remind students of how they and their experiences are special.


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