The Century Walk Corporation

garage murals showcase student works

December 15, 2011 — Source: Trib Local Naperville — Author: Melissa Jenco

When Jim Murphy was in elementary school, he loved to draw, but gradually turned his interest to skateboarding instead.

However, after breaking his elbow in a skateboarding accident, he quite literally went back to the drawing board and to the art class of Carolyn Steward at Waubonsie Valley High School.

“I just like the way she drew and liked the way she taught,” said Murphy, 17. “It helped me see things in a new way.”

Murphy, who is about to graduate from Waubonsie, now hopes to enroll in an art school in Colorado to continue to pursue his passion. But the journey and the teacher who inspired it will forever be emblazoned on Naperville’s facade. (Photos: Murals showcase student artwork)

Murphy is one of several dozen high school students leaving a mark on the city in the form of way-finding murals in the Van Buren parking garage. His contribution to the project is a painting of his hand drawing himself painting Steward.

The artistic endeavor is one of the latest Century Walk public art projects and includes students from Waubonsie Valley, Neuqua Valley, Metea Valley, Naperville North and Naperville Central high schools who were led by professional artist Timm Etters.

The students as well as leaders from Century Walk and partner KidsMatter are now celebrating the completion of Waubonsie and Naperville North murals, which take up the third and fourth-floor stairwells respectively. There will be a ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday beginning on the third floor of the garage to recognize their work.

“This is not only a wonderful way for people to remember where they parked their cars obviously, but more importantly it is a community bulletin board that says Naperville values the contributions of its young people,” said IdaLynn Wenhold, executive director of KidsMatter. “This way-finding system will provide a way for young people to make a lasting contribution for generations to come.”

Each of the schools took over a floor of the garage, and each created artwork that embodies one of the KidsMatter developmental assets such as commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, positive identity and constructive use of time.

Waubonsie students chose empowerment, while North chose positive identity. Last year Central students completed a mural based on constructive use of time. Neuqua and Metea students are due to work on their own murals next summer, pending funding.

Etters, who has created dozens of murals in Naperville, said he enjoyed working with students, who came into the project with a range of talent.

“They bring so much to a project whether it’s their sense of humor of their stories or their energy, their talent or all of the above,” he said. “It’s just really fun. We have a good time here.”

The Van Buren garage artwork is considered Century Walk’s 37th piece, according to President W. Brand Bobosky. However, the group already has its 41st piece in progress, a mural on the downtown Gap store called “Naperville Loves a Parade.”

Most Century Walk projects have been funded through Special Events and Cultural Amenities grants from the city. Bobosky estimated the Van Buren mural project costs just under $30,000 per floor.

Waubonsie junior Kayla Scott said she enjoyed being involved in the project. Following the theme of empowerment, she thought of her service work with the school Key Club and focused her portion of the mural on community groups like Loaves and Fishes and the Naperville Humane Society.

Scott said the work improved her artistic abilities and gave her a chance to get to know classmates better.

“I’m hoping people will overall see that it’s high school students trying to work together,” she said.