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Hometown Hero: Rachel Kamata of San Antonio

Meet the high school artist behind “Light Fiber,” a window mural created for Whataburger’s downtown S.A. location.

At 17, Rachel Kamata is no stranger to big public art projects.

As a member of Blue Star Contemporary’s MOSAIC Student Artist Program, she was part of the crew that created “The Legacy of Our Journey,” an epic mural for the Historic Outdoor Museum in New Braunfels.

Her latest large-scale venture, however, is all her own. For the holiday season, Kamata created “Light Fiber,” a window mural for Whataburger’s downtown San Antonio location. It’s on display through January.

Cast your vote for Kamata's work in the Light Up Downtown Holiday Contest here! You can vote daily through Thursday, Dec. 19. 

The vibrant design features a golden white current running through a river of stained glass in earthy shades of red and green. Hidden in the flow are several ‘W’s” (for Whataburger, of course).

As the kids say, the piece is lit. Literally. In the evening, LED light strips give it a festive glow.

The initial inspiration for the design was Christmas lights “and that warm feeling you get” from them, Kamata said.

Made up of 26 panels printed on translucent vinyl, “Light Fiber” is an impressive 8 feet by 100 feet. After submitting a proposal to Whataburger, Kamata was commissioned to create the design for Light Up Downtown, the city’s annual holiday contest.

Working under the mentorship of MOSAIC Artist-in-Residence Alex Rubio, Kamata made a hand-drawn scale model of the design, then tweaked it on an iPad and computer.

A senior at the International School of the Americas, Kamata became interested in art in fifth grade after winning a contest with a notebook paper drawing of a pond. Since then, her realistic drawings and paintings have won numerous accolades, including multiple medals from the State Visual Art Scholastic Event competition. She joined MOSAIC in 2016.

Throughout her time in MOSAIC, Kamata has “demonstrated an advanced level of composition and design,” Rubio said, along with “a natural sense of creativity and vision.”

After graduation, Kamata plans to attend the University of Chicago and study international relations and art. Japanese, which she began studying to chat with her grandparents, also will be in the mix.

For now, she’s enjoying her first “real world” experience creating a commissioned artwork.

“I think it will have a positive impact on the community, especially during the Christmas season,” she said. “I think it will bring a bit of happiness to people who see it and be something they don’t expect when they visit Whataburger.”

Whataburger has focused on its fresh, made-to-order burgers and friendly customer service since 1950 when Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas. Today, the company is headquartered in San Antonio with more than 900 locations across its 14-state footprint and sales of more than $3 billion annually. Whataburger is a 2022 Top Workplaces winner. The brand has more than 50,000 Family Members (employees) and more than 60 million customers who like to customize their Whataburgers just like they like it. Visit whataburger.com for more information. To apply for Whataburger jobs, visit whataburger.com/careers.

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