//Chelsea Lewinski working on her Bob Marley mural located at Denver Limo Inc. on Jan. 12. Photo by Esteban Fernandez | firstname.lastname@example.org
Along with being a perfect example of the emotionally charged portraits Lewinski is known for, her depiction of Marley is infused with hope. With layers of spray paint, she defined the wearied but reassuring eyes of the late musician. Beside him, she placed three little birds imbuing the wall with color.
“[Bob Marley] was all my son listened to as a toddler,” Lewinski said. “[Marley] stood for love. He wasn’t afraid to be a symbol of love.”
As a long-time listener and avid fan of Marley’s message of peace and love, she was thrilled to start off a new year with a message that 2020 seemed devoid of.
Despite having been named an artist to watch in 2019, Lewinski started 2020 homeless, sleeping on couches and in cars. As she searched for rooms to rent, she placed her 12-year-old son under the care of her mother.
“Starting out my year like that was really hard. I had a lot of regret and guilt,” Lewinski said.
After a slow accumulation of notoriety and a packed schedule, Lewinski was able to find an apartment just in time for her and her son to shelter in place. She expanded her mural portfolio at a breakneck pace, ultimately being featured at CRUSH WALLS for the second year in a row.
However, her manic attempts to develop her name and stay financially solvent came screeching to a halt on the third night of the festival.
While riding a scooter through the RiNo Art District she hit a pothole and crashed, breaking her wrist. A GoFundMe was started to help pay for the surgery to implant a plate and seven screws. Upon waking up post-surgery, she found she could not move her hand. For the first time since she left her cushy office job, she was forced to take a breath, something she said she needed.
“I was painting every single day and I didn’t have a home-work life balance,” Lewinski said. “I was literally running myself into the ground and that’s not healthy for anybody whether you’re living your passion or you’re not.”
While she convalesced, Lewinski spent mornings listening to Marley and cooking breakfast for her son. The quiet gave her time to reconnect with why she risked everything for her art. She had drawn on and off her whole life but hadn’t considered making it a profession until she attempted her first mural. So powerful was the experience that before it was even finished she had quit her job and leapt into the unknown.
However, once she began it was anything but straightforward. Facing financial destitution, she began to take more commissions than she could manage. Somewhere along the way, she lost her drive. Lewinski said that to be her best self and the best mother for her son she needed to get it back.
As with the rest of the country, 2020 brought her earth-shattering anxieties along with a reminder that the only remedy was not to control the uncontrollable but to fill empty spaces with light.
“When you take away the one thing that you define yourself as, which in my case was an artist, it really made me think ‘who am I and who am I outside of art?’” Lewinski said. “Art is what I do but it’s not who I am. And so [I was] learning more about myself and trying to figure out who I want to be in this world and what kind of print I want to leave behind, it made me readjust everything and try to work from a place of light and love.”
After months of physical therapy, her wrist is again able to bear the strain of the lengthy mural process. Lewinski is ready to return to art full time but will also continue to make time for snuggles on the couch with her son.
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