You can find Michelle Dekkers perched on the top rung of a ladder below an overpass on Walnut Hill and Greenville, equipped with every color of paint and an arsenal of tools. She is tasked with painting a mural for the SoPac Trail, which connects to the Katy Trail extension, Northaven Trail, Cottonwood Trail and White Rock Creek Trail.

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Dekkers initially took painting lessons from age 4 until 12.

“There was one assignment of recreating a Pissarro painting of a landscape that incorporated one too many shades of green,” she says. “That caused me to quit painting. I didn’t lay my hand on art supplies again until the very end of my senior year of high school.”

Jaded, Dekkers slowly grew accustomed to the art form again.

“It started with creating paintings as gifts for my parents and turned into a summer full of painting before I left for
school,” she says.

As an adult, she took a job as an auditor.

“I decided to jump ship from the corporate world in 2016,” she says. “I knew that I could always run back to my safe career if things didn’t work out.”

Mural work became her beat, painting indoor and outdoor walls all over Dallas.

“It’s always intimidating to create something that will be on display for an indeterminable amount of time,” she says. “It’s something that has to fit with the fabric of the community that surrounds it. With every project, I want to ensure that people who walk, ride or drive by on their local commutes feel seen and included.”

Dekkers embraces her opportunity, seeing it as a special privilege to make lasting changes to her city.

“It is the greatest honor to get to see my work out in the wild,” Dekkers says. “Although some murals are in private businesses, the public art is like a permanent gallery that I can share with my friends and family.”

Given the medium, Dekkers has to manage the brutal heat and the occasional shocking cold.

“Each creation comes with its own challenges,” she says. “ Visiting my completed murals is an experience of looking at a tapestry of obstacles.”

But with the SoPac trail, she gets to experience real-time appreciation of her work as pedestrians pass.

“There have been so many people … that stopped to tell me how thankful they are and how much they love what I am doing,” she says. “It fills me with a sense of confidence and fuels the motivation I need to reach this finish line.”