640 Ellice Avenue
'We Are The World'
West End BIZ's 7th Mural Menorship project. Rachel Schappert was the Mural Mentor in 2007.
Location: SW corner Ellice & McGee; East Face
Occupant: West Central Women's Centre (formerly JS Furniture)
District: West End
Neighbourhood: St. Matthews
Artist(s): Rachel Schappert
Sponsors: West End BIZ, HRSDC Summer Career Placement, Neighbourhoods Alive! (Manitoba)
Painters: Calib, Ayla, Jaime, Danielle, Niyyaz, Brendan, Emni, Jenna, Shanyco, Twan, Adrian, Jessie, Ryan, Dallas, Dallas, Destiny, Raven, Tara, Yvonne, Evette, Mananyot, Stac, Omar, Brittany, Rita, Suzan, Kayla, Paige, Kailyn, Nick, Kayla, Jayleen, Eric, Andrew, Eric, Shaylin.
Rachel Schappert: "During mid May, 2007, I was ecstatic that I had been chosen as the
Mural Mentor for the West End BIZ for 2007. I grew up in Manitoba in a rural
community, St. Anne's; and I went to a small high school where I had a lot of freedom;
and I'd been involved with some leadership projects there, including an art club where
we painted two Murals at the school. I had also developed really good organizational
skills there which I also think was an asset for this position as Mural Mentor; I also
worked in a day care last summer. In the fall I will be starting my third year of Fine Arts
at the University of Manitoba."
"I proceeded to advertise and visit schools, community centers, etcetera to recruit local
youth. I was very pleased with the enthusiastic response I received from Principals, art
teachers, councillors and youth program coordinators who helped me promote the project
"I wanted the Mural to portray the new generation of virtuous children engaged in
creative activities within a whimsical cartoon landscape, in which the multi-cultural
figures reflect the diversity of the West End. I wanted it to be fairly colourful. I also
wanted there to be a lot of motion involved in it, with all the swirls and colours. I wanted
the kids to be kept busy and engaged, doing creative things and to have elements that
were virtuous, playful activity, the inspirational words of the leaves. My initial target
audience was kids; but adults in the community have given all kinds of great feedback."
"It's an older building so we had to scrape the wall and pressure wash it to get it ready, so
there was a lot of work involved. Once we primed it, it was smooth sailing from there.
The very south part of the wall was in such bad shape when we were scraping it- the
mortar was eroding. I spoke with the owner and told him I wanted to omit that part of the
wall, but he ended up repairing it, so we could include it."
"I did some of the background colour and then I called the kids in to help me paint in the
background. I chalked out the gridlines. Then little by little, I started doing the outline. I
taught them how to colour it in and the right colours to use. I came in a couple of
Saturdays to finish the outline so we could see the whole design on the wall. Once the
whole design was up, the kids started choosing the figures that they wanted to paint! I let
the kids know that they had to be involved in the whole process, not just their favourite
parts, so that they would get an idea of all the elements involved in painting a Mural, and
see what the process was. The kids made suggestions too- the boy on the right has a
globe on his shirt, which was the suggestion of one painter. It was a good idea! You can
see from the initial design that above his head was initially going to be a light-bulb
(representing an idea; see photo 5) but the owner suggested putting 'we are the world'
there, since it is the title of the Mural. There are handprints coming off the vines like
leaves; and that was one of the kid's ideas, and then to sign their handprints. The kids
also came up with some of the inspirational words for the leaves."
"The clouds all have swirls- I wanted it to be whimsical and imaginative. Every figure
on this wall is doing things that are enjoyable and make them happy. I had to change
where the rabbit was because there was a pole where it was supposed to go. Rainspouts
were added to the wall mid-summer, so we had to move one of the characters because it
was right over his face. Minor details!"
"I wanted to stress 'work hard and play hard' because we had to get the Mural finished.
Painting was already fun to these kids. There were some days I had up to 20 kids. There
were 10 youth that came to paint regularly along with two local Rotary groups and the
Sister MacNamara CSI summer day camp group. At times painting proved to be
challenging for the kids, but overall they showed dedication and perseverance."
"A large group of youth from 'N.E.E.D.S.' war affected families came to paint for a day
as well. Painting put wide smiles on their faces. I could tell that being a part of a Mural
brought great joy to their lives which in turn made me feel extremely happy to be able to
share that with them."
"Because it was an east facing wall, the summer heat was bearable, and we had shade in
the afternoon, as well as shade from the tree. The weather fluctuated from day to day
and there were a couple of days when it was in the 30's where we had to stop early."
"As the kids and I painted the Mural diligently, I noticed the effect it had on the
community and the members of the neighbourhood. Many people passing by commented
on how well we were doing. Others said they loved how colourful it was, and some
would just smile. One man that complimented the Mural exclaimed that it had a way of
reminding adults of childhood and encouraged us to stay young at heart. Some local
residents even came by regularly to check on our progress and share some reassuring
words. One man that came by often told the kids and I about his dog Mitzi. Mitzi was
known throughout the neighbourhood, and unfortunately had died recently. He said that
it would be great of us to paint a lasting memory of Mitzi on the wall, so I asked him to
bring a photo and we painted her into the Mural (see photo 2)! It is a wonderful feeling
knowing that the Mural made people happy even if it was just for a moment as they were
"Now it's done and I'm a bit sad. I had a wonderful experience. Working with the kids
involved, and helping them develop their creative and artistic abilities by way of painting
this Mural has been an experience second to none! I always thought in the back of my
mind that I might be an art teacher, so this experience may well have influenced my
future career path. I'm really happy that I had this opportunity and I'd like to thank the
sponsors for giving me this opportunity. I've appreciated this whole experience."