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Garrett Popcorn Mural Created by High School Students

By Wendell Hutson | June 11, 2013 8:36am
 A group of students from Kenwood Academy and Simeon Career high schools assisted a local artist to create a mural for a Garrett Popcorn store in Chatham.
Youth Painting
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CHATHAM — A group of students from Kenwood Academy and Simeon Career Academy are helping local artist Rahmaan “Statik” Barnes create his second mural for the Garrett Popcorn store in Chatham.

"Unlike the first mural I did for Garrett Popcorn [which displayed black art], this mural is about youth culture in Chatham," Barnes said. "This is definitely an upgrade from the first one I did."

The Chatham store, 737 E. 87th St., opened in December 2011.

For the last 10 years, Barnes has overseen the mural program at Kenwood, which partners with After School Matters, said Emily Suied, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit youth organization. There are 15 students from each high school working on the mural who are apprentices in the After School Matters mural program.

Once the mural is unveiled, Barnes said the public can expect to see images of young, black boys banging empty buckets as if they were drums, girls braiding each other's hair and boys playing basketball.

"These are the images of youth and what they see in Chatham," said Barnes, 32, who grew up in Englewood. "It's important that people see what our youth are seeing out here because it is totally different from what the adults are seeing."

In a statement, Garrett Popcorn officials said the murals are a good way to be engaged with the community.

“When we first opened our Shop at 87th Street, the Chatham community embraced us with open arms," said Melissa Mikolajczak, executive vice president of marketing for Garrett Popcorn Shops. "We are thrilled to continue to support the growth of the neighborhood by working with these talented and ambitious teens.”

After School Matters Chief Executive Officer Mary Ellen Caron said thousands of high school students have participated in its various programs since its 1992 founding by the late Maggie Daley.

"After School Matters is so excited to work with Garrett Popcorn on this unique, artistic opportunity for Chicago teens," Caron said. "We are grateful for the generous support of Garrett Popcorn, and we look forward to working together in the future on more projects to improve Chicago communities."

Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association, said she hoped more businesses in Chatham would create opportunities for youth to showcase their skills.

"All our youth need is a chance to show what talents they possess and how it could be use in a positive matter," Kelly said. "It will feel good to drive pass Garrett knowing that the mural on their wall was put together by youth."

The mural will be finished by Wednesday and unveiled by the end of the month.