September 20th, 2021
Four girls from Spring Lake High School–Eleanor Vega, Victoria Airo, Inez Allard, and Haley Brosnan–teach all of us how we can make an impact on our community as teenagers. Since May, these girls have spent hours creating a piece of art that is now completed and ready to be admired by our community. After all their hard work, a beautifully painted and substantially impactful mural resides in our very own Central Park.
The mural is made up of each individual artist’s own painting, yet they are painted next to each other in a way that intertwines their themes–one of the key elements that makes this piece unique. Although each separate piece of artwork has its own idea, they all come together to form a strong message of promoting diversity and nature.
Tori created her piece, ‘Alive in Nature’ in order “to send a message to the community about embracing what is around us along with each other.” Her piece depicts a wonderfully detailed hand outstretched to a beam of sunlight. Through each ray, the color of the hand changes, going from blue to pink to purple. When asked about the meaning of her piece, she responded, “the sunlight is meant to represent the different depths we can reach as a society if we accept each other to find inner peace.” For her, peace comes with seeking out a greater understanding of nature and her community. Not only do these things give her peace, but creating art does as well; it has become therapeutic for her. During quarantine, she found out the art competition was being held. She decided to enter because she would have a plentiful amount of time to make up her draft. Overall, she was glad that she was able to create the mural, stating, “I have never done anything like this so this whole experience has been exciting and terrifying. I am so happy to have had the opportunity and love that I am able to share my art with my community.”
Inez’s creation ‘Mother Nature’ shows the profile of a woman surrounded by elements of nature, from green leaves to cloudy skies to waves in all different shades of blue. She believes in the importance of empowering women and nature and managed to find a way to integrate the two. “I think I put women in my art because it’s something I’m good at, and as a girl I like to show powerful women in my art,” she states, along with “I also liked to show the diverse aspects of nature we get here in Spring Lake.” She believes that it is important that we are all able to support others, especially when times are hard. Inez wants her art to be able to inspire others to create, as it is everywhere in her life; from fine arts to performing arts to fashion, Inez is surrounded by her craft. She intends to continue down this path by studying fashion at Columbia College in Chicago.
Ellie’s piece, ‘Unity’, was heavily inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. “That movement is so impactful, I just wanted to share their story in our heavily white community.” Her open acceptance to others has also made a positive impact on her art, and now she is able to draw characters with more diversity. Her piece shows a woman of color with a rainbow crown surrounded by plants and animals with a rainbow in the background. On one half of her painting, it is daytime. On the other half, it is night. Despite her artwork’s clear skies and rainbows, the process wasn’t always exactly that. One of Ellie’s goals was to make sure that the woman’s jewelry and crown were shiny. When she started the project, she wasn’t sure how she would be able to accomplish this. She was able to resolve her small predicament by “taping off specific places and spray painting gold and gold flakes onto it.” She hopes that people will enjoy looking at her artwork, but that they will also understand the important message behind it. She states, “I’d like people to look at my piece and actually think about it.”
Haley created a piece called ‘Embrace Each Other’, and it shows people doing exactly that. She painted people of different genders, ages, and races being close to one another. She incorporates nature in her painting with leaves in the background and flowers in the people’s hair. On an episode of the Share Chair Podcast about the mural, she stated that one of her main goals was “showing people who look different and who are from different cultures from around the world being happy.” Not only did she want the people in her painting to be happy, but she wanted to make the people that admired it happy and develop a deeper understanding of embracing one another, specifically children. She noticed the people that would pass by while she was painting, especially the kids that attend Little Lakers. “I thought that [diversity] was important to show to younger kids in our less diverse area.” Even though they have only finished the mural recently, she has already noticed how her mural is impacting the community. She stated, “There was this one father and daughter who walked by and he stopped and explained to her concepts like diversity.” Not only does Haley want to spread the importance of accepting others, but also the importance of art. She always liked hearing the kids say that watching the girls painting the mural inspired them to create art of their own.
As a community, we benefit from the magnificent creation that Tori, Inez, Ellie, and Haley have given to us, and we will continue to benefit from it for years. The girls have given us a wonderful reminder of the importance of loving one another and the world around us. We are thankful for the positive message that their artistic abilities have provided and we will continue to learn from it.