Participants in the Youth Zone’s Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program completed two 4’ by 8’ murals for the Pikes Peak Workforce Center (PPWFC), which were recently unveiled and now hang prominently at PPWFC. This purpose of the project was to introduce art as a means of self-expression and communication and to show participants ways to give back to their community. The students worked under the direction of Concrete Couch, a local organization, with the mission “To work with kids and community groups to create public art, to build community, and to create environments and experiences that humanize our world.”
The inspiration for the mural was Thomas Hart Benton’s America Today. Benton, an American realist painter and muralist, produced America Today, a series of murals depicting American life just before the Great Depression.
Tied to the theme of workforce development, the mural depicts workers in the 20th century workplace. Women working is a major theme of the mural as is diversity of the workers. Other themes include the ladder and keys to success; career pathways; the trades and apprenticeships; gears working together to keep the machine running smoothly; workers multitasking; and resumes and interviews.
Ernestine Brooks explains her depiction of two computers, one a clunky older version and the second a newer flat screen, as representing the advancement of technology and the gender divide. Ernestine is a student at PPCC working to become an Emergency Medical Technician.
With an eye for detail, Ricardo Monforte, also a student at PPCC, painted a series of intricate gears on the mural. Ricardo is studying diesel mechanics.
Other participants in the mural project were: Erica Miller, Pikes Peak Community College; Auriana Tapia, UCCS; Rebecca Swars, Rampart High School; Holly Wampler, graduated from Doherty High School; Sophia Emmanuel, Community Prep School, and Natasha Meehan, the Classical Academy.
The WIA Youth Program is designed to help low income at-risk youth, 17 through 21, achieve their educational and employment goals. More information can be found at www.ppwfc.org.