Veteran’s Mural Project by Will Watts

Veteran’s Mural Project by Will Watts

Now on display in Jackson Alley, adjacent to the Box Office windows on Central Avenue! As part of the Downtown Tracy Mural Project, artist and veteran Will Watts created this powerful and personal large-format work.

The Tracy Arts Commission invited Mr. Watts to create a temporary piece of street art addressing issues of health and wellness for those who have and are serving in our military. Mr. Watts served in the United States Army from 2006 to 2016, deployed twice in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Shortly after his second deployment, he was involved in a motorcycle crash, which broke both his legs. The accident abruptly ended Will’s military career and sent him into a deep depression. Surgeries resulted in anger and paranoia, feeling disconnected and alone, and with a constant fear of
death. Ultimately Will lost hope and became suicidal, lashing out and endangering himself and loved ones.

As a result, Will checked himself into therapy through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Desperate to get help in any way, he discovered a website that spoke about a plant medicine called Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is one of the world’s most powerful psychedelic teas containing dimethyltryptamineIn, commonly known as DMT.

Spontaneously, Will then traveled to Peru seeking guidance and healing, resulting in his participation in Ayahuasca ceremonies. His experiences had profound emotional and life-changing impact with Will confronting his fears and mistakes, and once again finding love and compassion. In addition, Will began to explore new things, teaching himself to play the piano and to paint. He has helped several veterans and friends visit Peru with positive results, and even traveled back to Afghanistan as a civilian to find peace.

“In my healing I met God and the devil. They were both shadows of myself who taught me many lessons about myself, and the universe. I came to understand that anger was useless, and that the meaning of life was about love and understanding. I felt a light radiating out of the center of my soul and I was whole again. Painting has been a wonderful outlet for my mental health, and has helped me channel many of the negative feelings that I have into something positive and creative. This mural that I have created is dedicated to all of the service members out there who have gone through depression, anxiety, PTSD, and trauma, and urges those who are lost to research the plant medicine Ayahuasca. It saved my life and transformed me into a person that I now love. Though we may feel lost at times, we are never alone.” – Will Watts