For many of us, a love and appreciation for the arts began at an early age. Fostering that lifelong commitment is a top focus for Big Picture founders Doug and Eileen Leunig, who have teamed up with Peoria Public Schools (PPS) on a summer mural program. Four artists funded by Big Picture are working with students to create 20x10-foot murals for display at four area schools. They include Megan Couri at Peoria High School; Connie Andrews at Maude Sanders; Jaci Musec at Northmoor; and Steve Fairbanks at Trewyn.
Each artist is working with a small team of students to develop concepts, and then create the murals. Musec, for instance, asked her group of third graders what their school means to them and to sketch out some ideas. She’s helping them merge all their concepts together graphically. “They’re really excited to see their names on the mural when it’s finished,” she notes.
“We want to see kids creating something they can point to and say, ‘I did that,’” adds Eileen Leunig, who hopes they will take this sense of pride with them in whatever they do in life.
“As community art, it’s intended to allow the kids to really collaborate and be part of the process from ideation to creation,” explains Doug Leunig. He sees the mural program as an extension of the classroom. “A lot of people associate art with ‘fluff,’ or an extracurricular activity, but it’s so much more than that. It’s all about the 4 C’s: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity—skills that will benefit them in anything they choose to pursue.”
The program is funded by private donors, which allows Big Picture to purchase the materials (which are provided at a discount by Born Paint Company and Adams Outdoor Advertising) and pay the artists for their time. To learn more about Big Picture and how you can help, visit bigpicturepeoria.org. PM