A vast canvas

Kyla Yu-Swanson puts the finishing touches on one of her creations. (courtesy photo)

A vast canvas

By Bella Ross

Kyla Yu-Swanson brings art to life with her murals

Of all the ways a person can give back to their community, Scripps Ranch High School senior Kyla Yu-Swanson chooses to do so with her paintbrush.

Where others may see a bland wall, Yu-Swanson sees a vast canvas – waiting to be brought to life with a collage of native species and colorful tones thoughtfully crafted in paint.

“Creating public art is Kyla’s quiet yet bold way of changing the world,” said Lois Yu, the artist’s mother. “Her murals beautify and celebrate the communities she created them for. And her designs reflect and raise awareness of something close to her heart: the life and beauty in our natural world.”

Kyla Yu-Swanson creates fascinating murals, usually featuring native species and colorful tones. (courtesy photo)

Yu-Swanson’s love for working on murals started when her aunt, an artist living in New York, brought together a large group of people to paint beauty into the rusted entryway of a local health center. The family blocked out two weeks to complete the piece, but a multitude of helping hands brought the project to completion in less than four days.

“This is a good experience for personal growth and just seeing what kinds of work that you can do with art,” Yu-Swanson said. “When I was little, I wanted to be an artist, so it’s really interesting seeing how that works because I wanted to pursue that in the future. It’s also a good way to try a new kind of art and give back to various communities.”

From as young as two years old, Yu-Swanson’s mother said even her stick figures looked more advanced than the rest. When she wasn’t actively working toward being an artist, her daughter’s talents shined through, Yu said. 

“It’s something she’s done on her own and I would say it’s something she hasn’t even put a big emphasis on, but she was always very good at it,” Yu said. “She always had a very competent hand in drawing and painting.”

Among her larger pieces is a mural on the face of the UCSD field station in the Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve. Yu-Swanson described this piece as an opportunity to get in touch with her passion for environmentalism, something that inspires a lot of her work. She said it was one of her favorite pieces.

“I got really frustrated about halfway through that project because I don’t have the greatest confidence in my technical abilities. But once I got out of that rut it was actually really fun and I enjoyed especially painting all these little designs in the background,” Yu-Swanson said. “In person, it looks really cool.”

Similar to most high school seniors, Yu-Swanson is awaiting responses from universities she hopes to attend next year. Despite her love for the arts, she plans on studying a STEM-related field.

“I would like to continue doing art as a hobby,” Yu-Swanson said. “If I could find a way to make it intersect with whatever academic area I’m doing, that would be pretty cool.”

In the meantime, she is working on designing her own adult coloring book that she would like to see published sometime in the future. 

Yu-Swanson said she is open to commissions and has painted signs and utility boxes for neighbors in the past. Anybody who is interested can email kyla.yu.swanson@gmail.com.

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