Lees-McRae College Art Students Brighten Children’s Home With Colorful Murals

Student artists at Sullivan partner school Lees-McRae College (LMC) recently designed and painted seven murals to brighten up the Grandfather Home for Children in Barium Springs, N.C.

The project was part of the school’s first-ever mural-focused course led by Angelia Wilson, an assistant professor of communications art and design at LMC. The students painted the murals in buildings on the Grandfather Home for Children campus. The Grandfather Home is operated by the Children’s Hope Alliance, a nonprofit that serves the needs of hurting children and families in the region.

First approached by Grandfather Home for Children Principal Matthew Gaunt in 2018, Wilson said she wanted to bring a mural course to Lees-McRae to not only teach students the techniques needed, but also to give back to the community.

“When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it immediately,” she said.

The seven murals—found in the hallways of the home’s gymnasium—depict everything from Volkswagen buses and rainbows inspired by 1970s disco to views of mountains and rivers featuring classic cartoon characters like Bambi and Pepe Le Pew. All of the paintings were original designs conceptualized by the students in the course.


During the approximate 50 hours of work, students gathered in groups of two or three to complete the murals in time for the end of the semester. Many portions of the works of art, reaching the hallway’s ceiling, had to be painted atop a ladder. One mural, painted in the gymnasium itself, was completed with the help of scaffolding.

Wilson and the students said they hope the murals will bring some color and fun into the lives of the children living at the Grandfather Home for Children.

“There are so many ways to give back to the community,” Wilson said, “but as an artist, this is the perfect way to give back—you are allowing them to have something that you enjoyed doing.”

“After so much work it feels really good to see it done and pulled together,” said Shelby Kukowinski, a senior Wildlife Biology major and Communication Arts and Design minor. “Hopefully our art can be influential on the [children here at Grandfather Home for Children] and make their days here a little better. The entire experience was extremely rewarding.”

Not only was the course an opportunity for the students to give back to the community through their art, but it was a chance to practice a skill they may had not otherwise had the opportunity to explore.

Elena Schusterick, a freshman English major and Communication Arts and Design minor, said that at first, the project was overwhelming—she had never painted a mural before.

“I didn’t realize the space [we were going to paint] was so big, and the wall was so much taller than I thought it was going to be,” she said. “But this has changed me as an artist. I’ve learned how to work with other people and was amazed at how quickly you can run out of paint!”

Over the summer leading into the fall semester, Wilson will prepare for the murals to be completed by students in the nearby town of Elk Park.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply