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Grad works with teens to create inspirational murals for Union-Miles neighborhood group

September 29, 2017

 A 2013 Ursuline College Studio Art graduate has worked with Cleveland teenagers to create two murals that were installed in latePicture of Mary Kay in front of mural September at a local community development organization.

Mary Kay Thomas worked with teens participating in a Youth Opportunities Unlimited program to create two murals that stretch across four eight-foot by four-foot boards, for the Union-Miles Development Corporation headquarters in the former Miles Park branch of the Cleveland Public Library.

First, Thomas and the teens discussed and sketched ideas in a sketchbook. Then they worked together to transfer her designs to painted images on the large boards.

Titled “The Playground Kids” and “See the Endless Possibilities,” the murals show children on a playground and children singing and playing musical instruments, respectively. Thomas hopes the colorful scenes will “help to lift and inspire the lives of young people in a positive way, every day.”

The final touches were colorful handprints on a skyscape Thomas painted on the reverse sides of the boards, facing a preschool playground. About 70 preschoolers supplied the handprints. “They can enjoy their prints every day and be encouraged toPicture of Murals in front of building  reach for the sky,” Thomas said. 

She grew up in the Union-Miles neighborhood but had not been back since her parents died some 40 years ago. “I’ve come full circle by re-connecting with this community. The work is vital to revitalizing this community.” The Union-Miles Development Corporation building is next door to Miles Park Elementary School.

Next up for Thomas: a lunchtime art program for middle school students in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District. “It includes painting, ceramics, journaling with words and art and we’ll present an art exhibition to showcase their work,” she said.

Thomas enrolled in Ursuline College after suffering a stroke and ruptured brain aneurysm. She expressed special gratitude for art department faculty members Sister Diane Therese Pinchot, OSU; Sister Rosaria Perna, OSU; retired faculty member Pat Fallon, and Anna Arnold, director of Ursuline’s Florence O’Donnell Wasmer Gallery. 

“They have been so wonderful. Ursuline was such a pivotal part of my healing journey. I have returned many times as a continuous learner for the wealth spring of creative power that Ursuline College has garnered in me.”





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