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New McNair Mural Soars With Hope

McNair Mural IMG_4342 cropped .jpg

Mural ribbon cuttingA public reception was held on September 27 to officially celebrate a stunning new mural on the west side of the Ronald E. McNair Administration building at 7700 Olive Boulevard. About 40 people attended the celebration, which included a ribbon-cutting by the artist, Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley and Garrie Burr of Murals on Olive.

Entitled Soar, the mural was created by North St. Louis County native and self-taught painter Marquis Terrell. The mural represents the diverse faces and aspirational dreams of U. City Schools’ students as they progress from early childhood into adulthood. It is located at the epicenter of University City and symbolizes the dismantling of the outdated color and economic lines represented by the Olive Divide. 

“It was the perfect space, just being on the corner of Olive Blvd. and North and South,” Terrell said of the location. “I knew it was going to get a lot of traffic, so I knew instantly that I wanted to go with a lot of color to make it pop. I knew I wanted kids facing forward, some looking up, and others looking straight ahead, with the idea of them looking focused or inspired.”

Mural two Terrell named the mural Soar, “because everything is pointing up. I wanted the kids to see something that they could also physically look up to if they were walking by the mural.”

One day, while Terrell was putting the final touches on the mural, a mother and daughter drove up, and the mother took a picture of her daughter in front of it looking up at the giant children.

The mural was made possible by the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) of St. Louis and Murals on Olive, a subsidiary of the U. City community organization SHED. The aspirational and colorful work of art further symbolizes the District’s vision of Learning Reimagined, which focuses on racial equity, student voice, social justice and inclusion through rigorous, modern and relevant learning grounded in well-being and joy, said Superintendent Sharonica L. Hardin-Bartley.

“The mural is stunning,” Hardin-Bartley said. “We wanted giant images of children and students that couldn’t be missed. This represents the potential and joyful intensity of our students and the power of their potential. I thank SHED and the Regional Arts Council for making Marquis’ artistic vision possible.”

Terrell is currently completing an indoor mural at Barbara C. Jordan Elementary School that complements another mural he painted last summer in the wellness space at Pershing Elementary School. The goal is to eventually paint two more murals, so each of the District’s four elementary schools has a similar inspirational piece of art for students and staff.