McKeesport Community Mural
In the fall of 2016, Art Expression teamed up with more than 25 children and adult volunteers from Youth C.A.S.T. (Communities and Schools Together) who donated their time to create a community mural in McKeesport, PA. The mural features bright, positive symbols and imagery to convey two main themes: solidarity with groups who have been victims of recent violence; and the unity and pride of the people of McKeesport.
The mural consists of two parts: a lower wall with a rainbow theme representing the Monongahela River flowing toward McKeesport, and a taller main section that represents McKeesport itself, a proud city working toward renewal at the confluence of the Youghiogheny and Monongahela Rivers. Both panels also feature representations of the many groups of people who have been recent victims of violence: the LGBT community, the African-American community, law enforcement, and other groups. The two parts of the mural will be linked by the image of a rainbow, each color representing groups of people with whom solidarity is being expressed.
The volunteers developed sketches of their own ideas and experiences that were incorporated into the mural’s imagery using sketch books and other art supplies donated by Blick Art Materials.
The mural is part of a larger project called Green Playces, an initiative of GTECH Strategies, whose mission is “to work with people to transition land-use liabilities into community assets and improve the economic, social, and environmental health of our communities.” GTECH designed the Green Playces program to take action against blight, connect young people to fun, open green spaces and use those spaces as a platform for environmental education. The third of six Green Playces, the McKeesport site is located in a lot next to, and owned by, Trinity Church of God in Christ under the guidance of Deacon Joseph Lawrence. Additional project partners include Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time, the City of McKeesport – Mayor’s Office, and McKeesport Area School District. Funding is provided by The Heinz Endowments. For more information about Green Playces, please visit https://gtechstrategies.org/projects/green-playces/.