Youth Mural Projects

I worked for several years as an independent professional muralist and designer/coordinator of mural projects with at-risk young people. Most of these projects were made possible through various cultural non-profit and municipal organizations in the City of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Sometimes I proposed the project myself, and sometimes I was commissioned for the project. Planning, designing and facilitating a large mural project with groups of pre-teens and teenagers is not for the faint of heart. Once an organization or school received a grant to fund such a project, I did much of the work from recruiting young participants to drawing the design to ordering and transporting the supplies to the work site to running each work session. Some of the murals were painted on 4' by 8' sheets of heavy plywood which were eventually attached to walls on wood frames, while others were painted on-site on exterior building walls or interior room walls. These projects often took several months and sometimes involved up to twenty-five young people. Kids came from probation programs where they had been court-ordered to participate in community service, from organization- and city-funded youth employment and enrichment programs, and from public school honors programs which had a community service requirement...and participation often grew as younger siblings of the participants heard about how much fun it was and wanted to join in. No one had to be artistically-talented, experienced or inclined. There was always enough work for everybody. The kids took part at every stage of the process, from deciding on the themes and ideas for the mural to helping to draw the design to painting the panels. They played their music, behaved well, stuck around the whole session, took part in clean-up--and inevitably grew more and more invested in the project as the mural took shape, often pointing out areas to visitors which they had specifically worked on. For many of these projects, the kids got to take part in opening ceremonies, watch the panels of their mural being mounted on walls, got their pictures in the newspaper and sometimes even spoke to local television news broadcasters about the project. In the City of Holyoke today, more than a decade after doing this work and after the young particpants have reached adulthood, many of these murals can still be seen.

Transformations-Transformacions Mural

Latino Mural Project "Transformations/Transformacions." Holyoke Juvenile Probation Department, Children's Museum at Holyoke, Holyoke Community College. Holyoke, MA.