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Life & Arts

New Mural Shows History of Deep Eddy Pool

Andrea Bean sits and cracks tile in to smaller, tiny pieces. She stops and looks up at the massive tile mural in front of her and hunts for the small gaps between the larger tile pieces that need to be filled.

“It’s very tedious. It could never end and at some point you have to say ‘okay that’s enough,” she said.

Bean is the art teacher at O. Henry Middle School. For the past six weeks, she’s been helping place tiles made by her students and students from eight other local schools. The tiles are a part of a 1,200 square foot mural being installed beside Deep Eddy Pool.

The Deep Eddy Mural project was started by Wanda Montemayor five years ago as part of her thesis with an art therapy school.

“I wanted a project that would connect something that was historically Austin to different people throughout the city, at-risk populations, private schools and just make it one community,” she said.

She has worked with students in different after school art programs and began to notice a change that happened when students created art for their schools and community.

In 2005, Montemayor worked with students at O. Henry Middle School to create a mural for the school. She says students felt more connected to their school and community when they see their art everyday.

“When they leave the school, they still belong to the school and when I see them they still have such great pride in it,” she said.

The student’s tiles are all different. Some wrote their names or the date they’ll graduate. Others drew pictures.  Montemayor noticed some students become intimidated with a blank canvas in front of them and she helped them express themselves.

One group of students she worked with was teen parents from Travis High School. She invited the mothers to bring their children to a workshop and decorate tiles.

“What were the hopes and dreams for their baby, and that was their prompt,” she said. “Some of them had a hard time thinking about it. It was an encouraging thing for them to be with each other and it was like, ‘Whatever you say is right.’”

Surrounded by the students’ tiles are scenes that describe the history of Deep Eddy Pool. To create the scenes, Montemayor’s partner Lisa Orr dove into researching the pools history.

“The first thing I did was start researching the name Deep Eddy. What was this eddy? I looked at the pool I didn’t see an Eddy anywhere. So, what was that about?” she said.

The name comes from an eddy where the Edwards Aquifer bubbled up near the Colorado River. It was a popular place for swimming, but the eddy combined with nearby large rocks made it dangerous for swimming and several people drowned. In 1900, the area was destroyed with dynamite. Fifteen years later the the pool was built.

The mosaic is nearly finished. There’ll be a party for the students and volunteers to enjoy their hard work in October.