COLUMBIA — If you ever looked at a painting and thought, "my kid could paint that," this could be their chance to try. And yours. 

Under the guidance of local artist Madeleine LeMieux, 17 teens in the city of Columbia’s Career Awareness Related Experience Art Gallery have already begun work on a mural under Locust Street in Flat Branch Park. The C.A.R.E. Art Gallery, which employs teenage artists in Columbia, began planning the project several weeks ago.

*At 4 p.m. Saturday, anyone who would like to participate can help paint in what the group is calling Community Painting Day.

The goal of Community Painting Day is to get a lot of paint on the wall in a massive "paint-by-numbers" event, LeMieux said. Teenage artists in the program will then finish the mural in upcoming weeks.

The mural will celebrate diversity in Columbia according to a press release from the city of Columbia. "Growth" is a major theme of the mural, which will include the phrase: "You are the seed. Columbia is the soil. Let our challenges inspire us to grow."

The mural will also contain the likenesses of several local leaders.

"We have politicians, we have religious leaders in there, we have people who do various activist work," said Jamila Batchelder, coordinator for the C.A.R.E. Art Gallery.

Several community groups contributed to the mural's final design, including the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, Lutheran Family and Children's Services of Missouri, and Columbia Parks and Recreation. But the teen artists did the actual drawing. LeMieux, who has over a decade of experience with murals, unified the teen's sketches into the final design.

LeMieux described the final concept as one of overcoming challenge, rooted in Columbia history. Batchelder agreed.

"I think there are people throughout Columbia who are overcoming things to bring out their own potential," she said.

Columbia Parks and Recreation originally approached the art gallery with an idea for a mural corridor along the MKT trail and hope to eventually have eight murals to deter graffiti. Currently, only the first project has funding. Completion of the next seven murals, LeMieux said, depends largely upon the success of this one.

"Creating a piece of public art, the more the community supports it, the more long-lasting success it has," Batchelder said. "We want it to be something that everyone can celebrate and feel good about."

Supervising editor is Blake Nelson.

Asa Lory is a reporter with the Columbia Missourian.

  • Asa Lory is a reporter and photographer from Columbia, Mo.

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