Young artists install mosaic mural in Oak Park as part of Off the Wall summer program

OAK PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A summer program in west suburban Oak Park is giving young adults a chance earn money and learn a new craft.

These young artists are using their talents to create eye-catching murals to beatify the area and make Chicago proud.

It's all a part of the "Off the Wall" program through the Oak Park Area Arts Council.

"From concept to completion, the students work on everything. We do the mosaic fabrication in studio, then bring it out to the site the last 2-3 weeks of the program. We actually have to get it up on the wall, so we do everything from the mixing cement to putting together the scaffolding," Off the Wall Master Artist Carolyn Elaine said.

Elaine has been working with the program since it began in 2005. She partnered with the program's founder, Oak Park Arts Council Executive Director Camille Wilson White, to make it all happen.

Each year, a piece is created based upon community input, location and things that impact the world around us.

"This year, I just wanted to do something fun. I just wanted to bring joy and beauty. As an adult - and I can speak for other adults - that's missing right now in this climate," Elaine said.

This year's underwater-themed mosaic is on the exterior of the Wonder Works Children's Museum.

"I think just having it on the museum, with the visual piece and sensory piece for the kids, is huge. I think it helps tie the whole place together," Wonder Works Children's Museum CEO Rachel Rettberg said.

Apprentices working on this year's project said they are bringing home more skills than just the craft of mosaics.

"There are so many skills that you learn here that you can apply to other professional situations. I think it's actually helped me in other lines of work that I've been in, because it is a lot of responsibility, dedication and commitment. It translates to a lot of other aspects of life," Off the Wall Lead Apprentice Allison Schiffner said.

Others said it's about leaving a lasting impact in the community.

"It's not every summer you can say that at my summer job I made a piece of art that will forever be here. I can say I worked here and did that, we worked on that. You know, you can't really say that for every summer job," Off the Wall Apprentice Hasani Cannon said. "When you're taking this job, you're bringing life to the community. That's what I would say."

The official dedication for the mural will be held on Aug. 12.

Visit for more information about the Off the Wall program.
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