Congratulations to Lone Star Emmy Winners Natasha Davison and Nelda Buckman!


February 1, 2024
AET lecturer Natasha Davison holding her Lone Star EMMY Award for producing writing and directing the Muraling Austin series

Their series Muraling Austin honors the faces behind spaces coloring Austin’s cityscape

By Neerul Gupta

Nelda Studios founder Nelda Buckman smiling in front of a billboard advertising Muraling Austin
Nelda Buckman, co-founder of Nelda Studios, stands in front of a billboard promoting the Muraling Austin series that aired on PBS.

AET lecturer Natasha Davison and sponsor Nelda Buckman are newly minted Emmy winners. 

Along with their production team, Davison and Buckman were awarded the Lone Star Emmy in Arts/Entertainment for “Pride of Place,” the first episode of their Austin PBS documentary series Muraling Austin. Davison was the series producer, writer, and director. She was joined by Executive Producer Buckman who serves as Founder and President of Nelda Studios. Along with her husband Karl Buckman, she is a sponsor of the Buckman Center, SDCT's upcoming immersive technologies studio and lab. 

Austin’s murals adorn hotels, restaurants, and even the Lamar Boulevard underpass. Muraling Austin spotlights artworks that brighten an otherwise concrete city. “Murals succeed in celebrating important people, activists, artists, honoring histories, and elevating spaces that are public. They're accessible,” says Davison. 

Similar to the accessibility of murals, the series is freely available to the public on Austin PBS. The three-episode series airs across 92% of the country and in all major markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco. 

Davison and Buckman’s work allows viewers nationwide to reimagine murals as public art, each with their own stories. “Pride of Place” explores the hearts behind three in particular. 

Image of The Beauty of Liberty and Equality mural by Sandra Chevrier and Shepard Fairey
“The Beauty of Liberty and Equality” by Sandra Chevrier and Shepard Fairey. Photo © Alan Lessig/© Nelda Studios

“The Beauty of Liberty and Equality” is a 12-story mural, Austin’s largest, on the west-facing wall of the LINE Hotel downtown.1 It celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which extended voting rights to women. The mural was co-created by Canadian artist Sandra Chevrier and California-based artist Shepard Fairey, both of whom Davison interviewed at their studios in Montreal and L.A. respectively. 

In “Protectors of the Red Bluff,” artist Ruben Esquivel honors his uncles Raymond, Pete, and Gilbert Rivera, all Mexican community activists who fought to protect and preserve the Red Bluff area.2 Previously an oil tank storage facility littered with debris and trash, the area is now a dedicated nature preserve. The mural also pays respect to the migration of Mexican immigrants by featuring a large monarch butterfly. 

Artist Ruben Esquivel standing next to mural Protectors of the Red Bluff
Artist Ruben Esquivel standing next to mural "Protectors of the Red Bluff." Photo © Alan Lessig/© Nelda Studios

“The Pillars Project: Our History Our Trail” is a collection of 15 murals on support pillars underneath the Pleasant Valley Road underpass.3 The murals were painted by over 15 local artists to honor leaders of the East Side community. 

“Murals are more than just beautiful. They tell stories of the communities themselves,” says Buckman. Through countless hours of footage of the murals, artist interviews, and community activity, the Muraling Austin team captured Austin’s sacred stories of women, immigrants, and community pioneers. 

After filming came the pitch. Davison, along with Executive Producer Anne Zeiser, brought forward the series to Luis Pantiño, Head of Austin PBS, and Sarah Robertson, Head of Programming, in November 2022. Series like these typically take up to 10 months to produce, but their team had to deliver scripts for post-production by Jan. 1 — just six weeks later — and a finished series by March! 

Image of The Pillars Project mural by fifteen different artists in Austin
"The Pillars Project" by 15 local artists in Austin. Photo © Alan Lessig/© Nelda Studios

While three episodes of 26 minutes and 42 seconds may seem like quick business, the team had to finalize scripts, find a narrator, conduct video clearances, sift through and combine footage, and complete dozens of tasks required to make each episode fit for broadcast. (Fun fact: the narrator of Muraling Austin is Franchelle Dorn, a recently retired UT professor from the Department of Theatre and Dance.) 

Driven by the synergy of their team, they made the deadline. Episodes were submitted just in time to welcome 2023, and by the end of the year, Davison and Buckman had Lone Star Emmys in their hands. 

Murals aren’t the only things making a name in Austin. This win is not only for Davison and Buckman but also for women creatives. The Muraling Austin team was largely made up of women, many of whom were 60 or older. SDCT is home to trailblazers in creation and representation, and this Lone Star Emmy win is just the beginning.


1) Mural Name: The Beauty of Liberty and Equality (2020) 
Artists: Sandra Chevrier, Shepard Fairey 
Featured in Episode 1: “Pride of Place” Muraling Austin 
Photo Alan Lessig/© Nelda Studios 

2) Mural Name: Protectors of the Red Bluff (2022) 
Artist: Ruben Esquivel 
Featured in Episode 1: “Pride of Place” Muraling Austin 
Photo © Alan Lessig/© Nelda Studios 

3) Mural Project Name: The Pillars Project: Our History Our Trail (2019, 2021) 
Artists: Samara Barks (2021), Amado Castillo III (2021), Chroma Collective (2021), Will Hatch Crosby (2019), Ruben Esquivel (2021), Anabel Gómez (2021), Sadé Channell Lawson (2021), Armando Martinez (2019), Raymond “Rage” Mendoza (2021), J. Muzacz (2019), Carmen Rangel (2019), Kendrick Rudolph (2019), Reji Thomas (2019), Serena Tijerina (2021), Lakeem Wilson (and students 2021) 
Featured in Episode 1: “Pride of Place” Muraling Austin 
Photo © Alan Lessig/© Nelda Studios

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