The Puzzle of Life

Art Type
Media / Materials
Year Completed
PACE, Orchard Place
Latitude & Longitude
41.588187, -93.628507
Location Description
The exterior west wall of the PACE Juvenile Center in Downtown DSM, on High Street between 8th and 9th Streets.

The Puzzle of Life

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The Puzzle of Life is a large-scale mural painted on the west exterior wall of PACE Juvenile Center. The artist Barri Lester lead the design and fabrication process with the assistance of students from PACE. This public art project was inspired by participating young people, ages 12-17, of this alternative school, who had experienced problems with school or the law. The mural reflects the teenagers progress as they complete his or her education while working to improve his or her opportunities throughout life.


The Puzzle of Life” was a joint project of Orchard Place, Des Moines Art Center, and Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation—which provided primary funding. Additional support was provided by the Principal Financial Group, Iowa Paint Manufacturing Company, Inc., The Weitz Company, Laborers Local #117, The Woodsmith Store, Iowa Scaffolds Company, Grand View College Art Club, The Home Depot, The Art Store, Crystal Clear water, Molly Kinser Douglas, and Jim Engler.

PACE program is a collaborative effort between the Des Moines Public Schools, the Juvenile Courts, the Iowa Department of Human Services, and Orchard Place.