It looks so awesome, I'd never guess it was painted by a group of sixth graders.
A bright new mural gracing the graffiti wall at Mother Fool's Coffeehouse on Willy Street pays tribute to the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls and the Bring Back Our Girls movement, and is part of a global awareness campaign in support of girls' right to education.
Six middle schoolers from O'Keeffe -- Adeline Geary, Skye Lukas, Odessa Chusid, Anabelle Poore, Ruby Sutherlin-Sovern, and Amelia Hoffman -- are involved in a group called Girl Generation (modeled on the Mother-Daughter Project) that has been meeting over the last five years. Over the last year, these moms and daughters have organized community service and fundraising projects while also considering a public art project.
The girls agree the project is "a lot bigger" than anything they're undertaken before. They've been talking and planning for the better part of a year, and the painting alone took them the better part of a weekend. They painted for eight hours on Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, June 1.
The girls say their mural represents "girl power." It's is dedicated to the students in Nigeria, whose names are inscribed on the trunk of the tree in the mural. Playing in the tree are six girls, seen in silhouette, one of whom is lifting another up into the branches.
The O'Keefe sixth graders also painted the names of eight girls who tell their stories about the struggle for education in the documentary film Girl Rising. The mothers and daughters watched the film together and were inspired to action.
"They told they told their stories about how their rights were taken away," says Amelia Hoffman, who explains the students' hope that the mural will raise awareness of the struggle many girls face to get an education. "It's always good for people to be educated about what's going on, it's a way to raise awareness," she shares.
"I don't think I realized the full effect of what was going on around the world," says Odessa Chusid.
"After the girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria, some that escaped said they didn't want to go to school anymore because they were scared. That's really sad," notes Adeline Geary.
"A lot of people take things for granted, in the case of schooling. I think it's sort of a privilege where it should just be automatic. Everyone should go to school," adds Hoffman.
Lara Sutherlin, mother of Ruby, shares her perspective as a parent: "Working with all these girls at 11 and 12 and having them come together and create this beautiful mural is a visualization and personification of how you educate a girl, and how they can take ownership of an idea and how powerful they are in their own right."
Ruby says she hopes people will see the mural and be inspired to "donate some money or see what they do to help."
The mural is part of a public art space coordinated by Mother Fool's, and the girls expect it will stay up two or three months.
Go see it -- Madison's girl power in action. You'll be as proud as any mama!