Skip to contents
Health

Colorado had to release a health report. So it paid muralists to do it with paint.

A climate change tableau — the first of eight murals on health — is up in Fraser as the state tries to bring some color to sometimes stuffy reports.

"Save the World" is the title of artist Emanuel Martinez's mural at the Fraser Valley Shopping Center. The mural is one of eight focused on health and the environment and funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (Photo provided by CDPHE)
  • Credibility:

Raise your hand if you’ve read the state’s latest public health and environmental assessment. 

No? That’s pretty much what state health authorities figured, so they put it into pictures.

Eight murals — going up on the sides of shopping centers and public buildings across Colorado — will depict the 2018 report, an assessment by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that is required every five years under state law.

The state spent $40,000 on the project, with $25,000 coming from a grant and $15,000 in health department funds. 

The first mural, now on the Fraser Valley Shopping Center, shows people of several ethnicities working together to rescue the planet from climate change. It’s called “Save the World.” 

“Save the World” is the title of artist Emanuel Martinez’s mural at the Fraser Valley Shopping Center. The mural is one of eight focused on health and the environment and funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (Photo provided by CDPHE)

Each of the murals will depict main points of the state health assessment, including healthy eating and living, locally sourced foods, physical activity, and the relationship between mental, physical and environmental health.

A mural planned for the Colorado Discover Ability Center in Grand Junction focuses on access for people with disabilities and will include people using adaptable skis. Details about the other murals have not been released because artists are still in the design phase. 

The other six murals will appear by the end of the year in Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Evergreen, Walsenburg and Otero County. 

The 51-page health assessment, which is broken down into seven themes, is written conversationally and includes charts and graphs about everything from Colorado’s higher-than-average suicide rate to statewide water usage. Still, its authors felt a disconnect with the public.

Community artwork can speak to people in ways that a research paper cannot, said Deborah Monaghan, interim director of the Office of Planning, Partnerships and Improvement at the state health department.

Each artist will receive $5,000. The artists were chosen from 30 applicants by a state committee. Artists must have lived in Colorado for at least five years and must finish the murals by the end of the year, a requirement of the grant from the RedLine Contemporary Art Center.

The idea for the murals came up during a meeting of state and local health authorities who wrote the five-year assessment. 

“This is a bit out of the box of the government to fund murals, but if we can get a grant to do that, it could be a different way to partner with communities to elevate their health,” Monaghan said. “The report typically doesn’t get looked at.”