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Independent Markets Initiative

Using public art to strengthen culturally-specific food systems

A pilot program ignited by local food policy and research to support equitable food systems via culture sharing and the arts.

The initiative launched in 2021 in Lawrence, Kansas, with 5 culture-specific food retailers and in 2023 expanded to Garden City. Participating markets are paired with artists to create public artwork at each retailer location. This program highlights diverse foodways through cooking demonstrations using ingredients found at these retailers and celebrates the markets as cultural hubs for their communities. With the support of the Kansas Healthy Food Initiative, retail owners are provided with economic development training and marketing assistance to further build towards food systems equity.


  • Garden City Downtown Vision
  • Garden City Arts
  • Lawrence Douglas County Sustainability Office
  • Kansas Healthy Food Initiative
  • KU Small Business Development Center
  • Kansas Department of Commerce, Office of Minority and Women Business
  • Equity and Inclusion for the City of Lawrence




Raquel Garcia (Lead Artist) is a Kansas based artist that focuses on various types of two dimensional art with an emphasis on watercolor, acrylic, and oil paint. Garcia has an Associate of Arts degree from Garden City Community College, where she graduated in 2021. Garcia has participated in
various art shows in Kansas, where she’s shown pieces that focus on themes of coming of age,
mental health, womanhood, and her personal experiences.

As the lead artist, Raquel is responsible for coming up with the initial design, making alterations as needed, and painting the mural onto the building.
Artist Website

Paola Ramos (Artist Assistant) is currently working on an Associate of Arts degree at Garden City Community College. She is a Garden City, KS native who is looking forward to working on her first public art project.

Paola will be assisting Raquel with the execution of the mural from start to finish.

Mario Garcia (photographer) grew up in Garden City, KS and received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Washburn University. Through his art he often celebrates his Mexican heritage by focusing on the colorful, bold and vibrant nature of the culture.

Mario will be documenting the process of creating this mural project.

F-MART (Lawrence)


Emmi Murao (Lead Artist) is a Japanese-American designer and illustrator based in Kansas. She is passionate about creating visuals that tell stories fueled by nostalgia and cute characters while experimenting with juxtapositions: Eastern and Western, organic and graphic. She has been lucky enough to have worked with brands such as Disney, Target, and Walmart through her jobs. In her free time, she likes to bake, visit antique shops, and finally make her way through the craft supplies she bought five years ago
Artist Website

Juna Murao (Lead Artist) is a young designer born in Aomori, Japan. She brings a unique perspective coming from multiple cultures, and her designs bring both Western and Eastern design influences. She experiments with her design conceptually and visually, specializing in branding, type design, and typography. She has studied typography at the London Royal College and will graduate from the University of Kansas with a BFA in graphic design, May 2022.
Artist Website

Chikara Hibino (Assistant Painter) I am a Japanese-Mexican amateur artist who has a background in ceramics and acrylic painting. My experience consists mostly of 3D design and sculpture, but I have started to dive into 2D design in the past few years. I am also a devoted non-profit worker who volunteers for art based projects every year. I am currently an education and outreach specialist at MOCSA and a program specialist for The Safebar Network.
Artist Instagram | Artist Email



Kamela Eaton (Lead Artist) earned a BFA in Graphic Design from Wichita State University. She has spent many years working as an illustrator and is now a contemporary painter. Currently, Eaton’s practice is focused on figurative paintings that explore all aspects of identity. Her African American, working-class, Midwestern upbringing is reflected in her bold, colorful, straightforward, no-frills perspective on emotional spaces and experiences. Unapologetically and beautifully rendered, her paintings address many difficult issues from mental health, racism, sexism, gender, heterosexism and classism to ancestral memory, homeland terrorism and cultural appropriation.
Artist Website

Davon Davis (Artist Assistant) is an artist who works in acrylics and pastels. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 2023 and works primarily in the expression of emotional feelings. Davon focuses on vibrant colors in most of his pieces as that is what is comforting. Overall, he has worked on multiple group projects over the years and has started to branch off into his own path.
Artist Email



Dania Shoaib (Lead Artist) I am a Pakistani-American self-taught painter, digital artist, and Arabic calligraphist based in the Kansas City. 

I started doing Arabic calligraphy when I was 14 through painting. I take inspiration from my culture, Islamic architecture, and the Word of Allah. I started digital art on Procreate (best $10 I’ve ever spent!) last year after the pandemic started and opened my Redbubble store in May 2020. Since then, I have sold hundreds of stickers and other items through my Redbubble store and have participated in philanthropic projects as well. My latest artwork is exploring the different styles of art and architecture around the world coupled with the scripts of their respective regions. My portfolio can be found on Instagram (@harfco.)

I also had the honor of collaborating with ZUDO, and Islamic inspired brand based in the United States, to create canvas pieces for their ZUDO Home collection in 2021. 
Artist Website



Javy Ortiz (Lead Artist) is an interdisciplinary artist born in Cd. Juarez, Mexico. Javy currently lives and works in Lawrence, KS. Javy is self taught and gathers inspiration from personal experiences, pop culture, and contemporary social issues. He prolifically works to evoke his own mood and personality through his art while engaging the viewer through vibrant colors and mixed media.
Artist Website

Connie Fiorella Fitzpatrick (Lead Artist) is a community-based public art organizer, artist, designer, muralist based in Lawrence, KS. Her work reflects her Peruvian heritage where she lived until age ten and focuses on projects that build racial and cultural equity. Some of her murals include “Compartiendo Culturas”; “Sharing Cultures” with the help of the Carver Dual Language School the grade class; and “Justicia Para Las Madres Inmigrantes” with Horizontes Project in Wichita, KS. She is a National Association of Latino Arts & Culture ALI Fellow alumi
Artist Website

Sydney Ruiz Krehbiel (Artist Assistant) I am a mixed Mexican, German, and Spanish queer-woman living on unceded Kaw, Osage, and Kickapoo lands otherwise known as Lawrence, Kansas. I am a colorful and inspired planter, maker, cook, and caregiver taking action to heal ancestral trauma, fight eco devastation, and dismantle hierarchical structures in small and big ways with my friends. I currently work with clay, yarn, and seasonal produce.

Image credit to Robert Hicks & Connie Fiorella-Fitzpatrick 



Kaushika Panchal (Lead Artist)

Henna Artist, Visual Artist, and Art Teacher
@KPArtworks (IN)

Mona Cliff (Aniiih) (Artist) is a Multidisciplinary visual artist. She explores the subject of contemporary Native American identity and culture through her use of traditional Native crafting methods such as seed bead embroidery and fabric applique. Beadwork & sewing applique have been a primary foundation of her artist practice. Honoring native culture, She has continued to work on her art combining contemporary subject matters with indigenous methods of crafting. Her art also focuses on how traditional arts are passed down between generations of women. Mona pursues the concepts of generational knowledge while exploring other topics such as native futurism and identity. Mona Cliff is an enrolled member of the Gros Ventre tribe (A’aninin/Nakota Nations) she is Frozen Clan(Aniiih) and of the Medicine Bear Clan(Nakota) of Ft. Belknap, MT
Artist Website

Project Coordinator – Lawrence & Garden City

Connie Fiorella Fitzpatrick is a community-based public art organizer, artist, designer, muralist based in Lawrence, KS. Her work reflects her Peruvian heritage where she lived until age ten and focuses on projects that build racial and cultural equity. Some of her murals include “Compartiendo Culturas”; “Sharing Cultures” with the help of the Carver Dual Language School the grade class; and “Justicia Para Las Madres Inmigrantes” with Horizontes Project in Wichita, KS. She is a National Association of Latino Arts & Culture ALI Fellow alumi
Artist Website

Project Coordinator – Garden City

Liandro Rodriguez serves Garden City as the Assistant Director of Garden City Downtown Vision and is committed to promoting Downtown Garden City as a business and industry hub, providing places for individuals to carry out day-to-day business, shop, live, entertain, connect, and eat.

Photographer Assistant – Lawrence

Hi my name is Jean-Luc Esperance, and I’m an aspiring filmmaker/photographer. I take photos and videos of things that are on my mind at a given time. I believe media is such a powerful tool to really engage people in whatever topic I’m advocating for. I do what I do because it’s something that I have the most passion and patience for. Film and photography drive me to be better every day.
Artist Email

Project Coordinator – Garden City

Katy Guthrie graduated from Fort Hays State University in 2013 with her Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Painting.  A native of Kansas, Guthrie has always been interested in community development and enrichment through the arts.  In late 2014 she excepted the position as Executive Director at Garden City Arts and has since started teaching art classes for both children and adults and organizing art events and exhibitions.

Along with painting, Katy is also a jewelry maker and book maker. She often incorporates vintage materials into her work.
Artist Website

Photographer – Lawrence

Robert Hicks Jr. is a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Trive of Nixon Nevada. He is a musician, filmmaker, painter, and audio engineer..He has won multiple awards for his films at the AIHEC film festival and is looking to enter multiple film festivals around the world. The stories he likes to tell are based on real life and Native American lore. With his film studio NOKWSI FILMS, he plans on creating a creative outlet for everyone interested in film. Robert approaches every project with a community health aspect in mind, with an emphasis on suiside prevention. He believes small acts of kindness can heal a person and in the process heal the community. He is currently enrolled at the University of Kansas in the Indegenous Studies program and the Applied Behavioral Science Behavioral Psychology PhD program.
Artist Website




Kate Van Steenhuyse, KAC Assistant Director

(785) 379-1608

[email protected]

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