Plywood from Chicago looting transformed by young artist into Irving Park murals about unity, community

CHICAGO, IL (WLS) -- A group of young artists spent their Thursday afternoon painting over plywood, displaying messages of community and inclusivity.

About 15 students from the Pro Level Painting program offered at After School Matters, a non-profit that offers an array of activities for city teens, teamed up with BMO Harris Bank to put their artistic skills for good.

"To me its important to speak out whenever you can. Even if that's through my art I feel like its important whether im the only who sees it or a million other people see it," said student Andrea Gaddy.

"We're the younger generation, we're the future, we're Gen Z so we want to set a good representation of ourselves for a future generation," said student Ahmad Shehadeh.

The plywood the young artists are using were once on the damaged property of the BMO Harris Bank located on Monroe Street. It was damaged by looters during the George Floyd protests.

A BMO Harris Banks employee, Leslie Anderson- Rutland, who is also on the advisory board for After School Matters, said the collaboration with the students was to commemorate what the protest meant to so many.

"They'll start up in the bank in our lobby and then they'll travel throughout the city. If Chicago can continue to do things like this and rally together and engage our youth, and rebuilding our city, we actually have a fighting chance for lasting change," said Anderson- Rutland.

The murals will be on display at the BMO Harris Bank located on Monroe St. July 21st.
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