Carnegie Library - Carrick

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Teen picked to paint Carrick library mural

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Link Here

Thursday, June 25, 2009

By Sandy Trozzo

Shannon Johnston, 17, who recently completed her sophomore year at Mars Area High School, works in her Middlesex home on a painting that will hang in the Carrick branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Carrick library mural.jpg Photo by Bill Wade/Post-Gazette

Shannon Johnston was looking forward to relaxing this summer after final exams at Mars Area High School. Her idea of relaxing, though, is to paint a 5- by 8-foot mural in a Pittsburgh library.

A mural designed by Ms. Johnston, 17, who recently completed her sophomore year, was chosen for the teen area of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Carrick branch. She learned about the competition during a pre-college art class at Carnegie Mellon University.

Ms. Johnston began the mural after classes ended June 4 and has to have it completed by Saturday. Her mural design incorporates signs from businesses in Carrick into an abstract, colorful background.

"I'm using shapes and bright colors, the whole spectrum -- something lively," she said. "I asked the librarian there where the teens liked to hang out, then I went there and took pictures of the signs and the places."

Part of the mural will be painted with blackboard paint, and chalk will be placed there for teens to add their own art or words.

Karen Brooks-Reese, coordinator of Teen Services for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh District Libraries, said the public art project was funded by a grant through the Heinz Endowments Youth Philanthropy Project. Seven pieces of art were chosen for library branches within the city.

The project was designed to encourage teenagers to create art that reflects the community where it would be painted.

Ms. Brooks-Reese said there were two proposals submitted for the Carrick branch. All identifying information was removed from the proposals, which were then voted on by the teens who use the library.

"They really liked the colors that she used, and they really liked the interactive component with the blackboard paint she was using. The teens can continuously remake the artwork," Ms. Brooks-Reese said. "Teenagers need to have a voice in what their space looks like."

Erin Sloane, Mars Area High School art teacher, said she loves it when her students compete for community projects.

"I'm always excited that they take it upon themselves to look for extracurricular activities, and they go for it," she said. "They are not afraid to try."

Ms. Sloane said she was looking forward to teaching art to Ms. Johnston for two more years.

"She's a very strong student, and I'm expecting a lot of good things from this one. I've got time," the teacher said.

Freelance writer Sandy Trozzo can be reached in care of First published on June 25, 2009 at 5:25 am