LIMA — A community center that provides educational programming for area youth has a new source of inspiration for the children they serve, thanks to the efforts of a young artist at Lima Senior High School.
Cora Bicknell, a Lima Senior student who is entering her junior year, spent several weeks painting a series of murals that now hang in the front entrance of the Mizpah Community Center. The paintings depict five people in various professions, including an astronaut, singer, football player, businesswoman and soldier.
According to Bicknell, the murals were meant to inspire children to achieve their dreams, no matter what profession they choose in the future.
“You just see kids and you want to influence them in any way that you can, so then when they grow up, you want them to prosper in life,” Bicknell said. “I just wanted to inspire kids.”
Inspiring children is one of the main goals of the Mizpah Center, according to director Mary Monford.
“I think [the paintings] exude what we’re trying to do down here, which is to expand the kids’ horizons and let them know they can do one of these things right here,” Monford said of the professions depicted in the murals. “I think it’s a great inspiration for our young people.”
The paintings are extremely colorful, with a rainbow ribbon spanning across each canvas to connect them all together. Each person depicted in the murals has a brightly colored skin tone, ranging from purple to blue and green. Bicknell said this was by design.
“I didn’t want there to be a race on this, I wanted it to be open to any race,” she said. “That way they can dream what they want to dream.”
Bicknell said it took about five weeks to paint the murals, though the early planning stages started back in December. She worked on the paintings in between classes and extracurricular activities during the school year, and then came back to finish the project throughout the month of June.
She was chosen for the project by her art teacher, Kristin Lee, who described Bicknell as one of her “overachieving art students.”
“I believe all my students are artists, but it takes a true artist to step up and be able to do more than what’s just in the classroom,” Lee said. “It’s always nice to have kids who are willing to give back to the community. I’m very proud of her.”
Lee said she was equally impressed by her student’s ability to paint the murals without raw sketches or outlines on the canvas.
“She didn’t draw it out, she just started painting,” she said. “I thought it was amazing that she could take something from her head and paint it, because most people need to really plan. She did it all from her own creativity, which is amazing.”
The paintings were displayed for the first time Wednesday morning, and they will soon be mounted on the walls with a plaque recognizing Bicknell as the artist. The murals will be displayed at the Mizpah Center for the foreseeable future.
“It’s truly a beautiful addition, and we love it,” Monford said. “It’s just what we need to inspire our young people.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.