Community Murals To Better Wheeling

Architects of Change, a community mural project, is promoting positive change for adults with mental illness who attend the Marian House and clients at Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center by giving them the chance to create a dynamic mural. The Marian House is a drop-in center run by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) that provides support and services to people suffering from mental illness. The mural will be applied to the west wall of the Marian House building, which is located on 18th Street in East Wheeling, adjacent to Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center, which is our partner organization.

The clients who attend the Marian House and Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center all suffer from poverty and its devastating effects. They live in low-income communities and are dependent on public resources.  One of the most damaging factors about this life of poverty is the loss of control that individuals feel. Dependency combined with a lack of healthy resources produces a sense of hopelessness and despair.  For poor individuals, there is no easy way out of the life of poverty and the violence, drug-use, and neglect that are often part of the fabric of low-income neighborhoods. This negative cycle is one reason that the rates of mental illness are higher for poor individuals. One way to combat this is to give them a voice in their community, which will help to foster a feeling of empowerment.

Bianca Benson

Our mural project, Architects of Change, will allow clients at the Marian House and Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center to make decisions about the content of the mural design, and this will increase their sense of competency. To make this mural, the clients will work with Bianca Benson, a graduate student who is completing her thesis work in the field of art therapy, and professional mural artist Bernie Wilke. These professionals will facilitate a process to help clients choose a theme that is relevant to them and also will help the clients make creative decisions about how to use artwork to represent this chosen theme. The clients are in charge of the design and will be contributing to painting and displaying the mural. Beyond that, they will permanently transform their immediate surroundings, something that is so necessary for positive change to occur. This process of transformation allows the clients to be more in control of their lives and environment, and this leads to empowerment.

An additional benefit of this mural is that it will beautify the East Wheeling community. In other cities, the presence of murals has led to a decrease in litter and vandalism. Public art has proven success in changing the way a city or community is perceived and has helped cities create a special and recognizable identity, which ultimately led to successful marketing and business development. This mural can help Wheeling revitalize its people and reinvent its sense of community!

Please become an Architect of Change today by donating to our mural project! We need a minimum of $5,000 to begin our project.  With these funds, we will help transform not only the east Wheeling community, but the lives of our neighbors who suffer from illnesses like Bipolar Disorder and depression and live in poverty. We have a comprehensive and detailed budget, which includes high-quality materials, hydraulic lift rental, and compensation for our professional artists. To help us lower our expenses, Bernie and I have agreed to donate a portion of our time and expertise to the project. And, by the way, wonderful donor incentives, such as artwork, are available when you donate. Please check these out and donate now!

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And/or come Wednesday June 17th to Wheeling Brewing Company, 5-7p.m. to learn more.

Thank you for supporting this worthy project. encourages you to take a look at what art, specifically mural projects, has done to help support the needs of and revitalize Pittsburgh.

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