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Art in Austin

New interactive art installation brings Austin together by building a wall

Interactive art installation brings Austin together by building a wall

W'All Mosaic Sound Collective,
W'ALL is now open to the public. Photo by Scott Paxton
W'All Mosaic Sound Collective,
People are invited to put their own bricks into the W'ALL. Photo by Scott Paxton
W'All Mosaic Sound Collective,
The space is both an art installation and community gathering space.  Photo by Scott Paxton
W'All Mosaic Sound Collective,
W'All Mosaic Sound Collective,
W'All Mosaic Sound Collective,

A transformed juvenile detention center off Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard is now the east side’s newest creative compound. Mosaic Sound Collective, run by Dan Redman, is part nonprofit and part studio space, housing tenants like Communities for Recovery, a peer-to-peer mental health and addiction support organization; Grammy award-winning producer Stuart Sullivan, whose clients include Sublime and Willie Nelson; and Soundwaves Art Foundation, a philanthropic music/art organization that has generated $2.5 million for social justice causes. 

Redman took over the space more than three years ago, which sits at a massive 25,000 square feet and is segmented into four different wings. To transform the building from a detention center into Austin's newest art destination, Redman jokes they “smudged a lot and burned incense.” 

Redman also enlisted the help of graffiti artists from Blue Dozen Collective to work their magic on the building. “They did a lock-in during SXSW 2018 and came on a Friday night and left on a Monday morning,” he recalls. “Now, we have about 25 murals throughout [the space].”

For everyone at Mosaic, it’s about being a part of the community and working toward the overall betterment of society. Because Austin is home to one of the highest number of nonprofits in the country, Redman has instilled a blockchain model where volunteers are able to gain credit toward free music education classes, screen printing, or recording sessions. "Our motto here is really collaboration over competition,” Redman says. 

One of Mosaic’s most famous tenants, Soundwaves Art Foundation, run by British visual artist Tim Wakefield, has worked with icons such as Guns N' Roses, Hozier, and Jack Black to take beloved songs and screen print the sound waves onto a poster. Artists then sign each print and proceeds goes to their nonprofit of choice. 

For the last 12 years, Wakefield has utilized this platform to support causes like War Child, which provides psychological support and education to children in areas of conflict, and more recently music education. In total, the organization has sold art in more than 70 countries, he says.

During its time a Mosaic, Soundwaves has also created a courtyard, event space, and art installation called W'ALL Austin, which stands for "We all Austin." The outdoor space features murals painted by a group of students from Del Valle High School about the environment, as well as a 15-foot interactive wall that opened to the public on November 15.

While walls are meant to keep people apart, W'ALL Austin is designed to do the opposite. "The project seeks to raise funds for their charity partners by constructing an interactive and experiential wall made of bricks engraved with song lyrics submitted by the public," explains the project's website.

Run by Wakefield, the wall “is going to go on forever and hopefully will be the biggest one in the world,” he says. People can spend $50 to put their favorite lyric on a brick with proceeds benefitting charities like The Trevor Project and Children in Conflict. 

“The mayor just put his brick on the wall and chose a Tony Bennett lyric,” says Wakefield. 

With so much good coming out of one space, it’s hard not to feel cheerful when taking a walk through the colorful East Austin compound, and Redman still has even bigger plans for the future. He’s hoping to take on affordable housing next by building a series of structures for creatives on the land surrounding Mosaic. 

To keep up with happenings at Mosaic, purchase artwork, or volunteer visit mosaicsoundcollective.com