Bright blocks of colors and bold lines: Interviewing the Speedway Muralists

In this series of interviews, Melissa Goodrich speaks to the 6 artists who created poetry-inspired murals along the Speedway corridor. Today's interviewee is Sasha Lewis. 

Left: The blank walls prior to Sasha's painting. Right: Sasha's finished mural, an interpretation of Brenda Hillman’s poem, ‘Saguaro”,
about a family admiring saguaros and in a moment of silliness, taking their form and shape for a family photograph.

How long have you been an artist/muralist?

I have been an artist all my life. I got my degree in Printmaking from ASU many years ago (😭) and have been making art on the side ever since.  I am in my 4th year of teaching high school (special education), after leaving the restaurant industry during covid. 


What led you to becoming a muralist? How would you describe your style, influences, or goals?

I’ve always been making art, and I think my doing murals just happened when people started asking me for them! I never set out to do them specifically. Now I view murals as simply an extension of my body of work. 

I think I’m best known for bright blocks of colors and bold lines and of course my animal friends.  I don’t like to plan too much and make a lot of design decisions on the spot which is fun and scary at the same time!  


Tell me about the poem that inspired your mural. How did you discover it? How did you take the words and transform them into images?

I chose a Brenda Hillman poem titled “Saguaro” that describes a family engaging with saguaros and posing with them for photos.  As soon as I read it I could picture the images in my head, and could see how my style could blend with her words. 

Tell me about the mural itself: what you included, your process, and/or how you hope people respond to your work.

My mural is a very literal interpretation of the poem, with characters interacting with saguaros, and repeating over and over again. I am hoping people just find happiness in it. Maybe pose alongside the cactus! 


What do you think public art like murals are important?

Because art is beautiful and engaging and brings communities together. Public art can transform a space and it’s something everyone can share. 


Why do you think poetry is important?

Poetry is art!!!


When not mural-making, how do you spend your time? Do you have a 'day job' or do you get to make art fulltime? 

I spend most of my time squeezing my dogs and making art at home. My new obsession has been ceramics.  I make little animals out of clay that you can find on my instagram and that I sell at Made In Tucson twice a year. 


Sasha Lewis (@sashaaliza) is a visual artist from Tucson, Arizona, working in the mediums of paint and clay, who is inspired by the colors and creatures of the desert. Lewis is intent on creating whimsical paintings and ceramic figurines that bring the viewer joy. In a satirical fashion, Lewis’ work acknowledges life’s mundane landscapes by prioritizing our imagination and need for fun. As a public artist, Lewis has created many playful murals designed to incorporate vibrant spontaneity into our serious routines. Alley Cat Murals is grateful to help Sasha continue to spread joy throughout the city of Tucson and brighten up the community we call home.