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Mia Collins’ middle name Soleil, which means sun, says it all.

The celestial body, and the stars that surround it, play a big role in her Trinity Trail mural, “Armadillo.” They light the way for the nocturnal animal as it scurries across a barren landscape.

“It’s the moon and the sun,” Collins said of the colorful circle that dominates her piece. And the constellations are there because there is “so much culture and storytelling behind them.”

Following her own North Star led Collins into becoming an artist. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin with geography and international relations degrees, she didn’t take the conventional approach of going straight to work. She took off to South America, and reconnected with her love for art. 

“I rediscovered my love for art, going from place to place on long 24-hour bus rides, but ultimately just finding pretty places to sit and draw and attempt to learn Spanish,” she said.

Eventually, she ended up living in Uruguay for three years, “where I worked to create a space exclusively for me and my art – and a few close friends,” Collins said. “Though I’ve since relocated to Austin, I still strive to create that space of connection through my work and my art.”

“Art is always an expression of who we are,” she said. 

Collins’ pen and ink artwork – and even some of her murals – are minutely detailed. But for the Trinity Trails artwork she revealed the “big, bold side” of herself by using bright colors and broad representations of the armadillo, the prickly pear and the stars.

“I try to convey with my art a reminder to look at the simple, and the simplicity and why we do what we do,” Collins said. “Regardless of the project, art always has a way of showing me exactly what needs to be seen, and my only job is to do my best to create that vision.”