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School Mural Proves It Does Take A Village

Artistic Inspiration

L.A. artist Rebeca Simms (aka Wylie West Creative) looks to fuel the imaginations of L.A.’s youth with her murals.

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It takes a village to raise a child, so goes the African proverb. It’s a message one village in particular, Our Village Preschool in Burbank, California, isn't soon likely to forget. Wylie West Creative, helmed by artist Rebecca Simms, recently inscribed the preschool with this phrase (and a number of other colorful moments) in a custom-painted mural around its playground. It’s a mural that strikes joy in the hearts and on the faces of those who view it. “My goal as an artist is ultimately to spread joy and make people smile,” Simms said.

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When it came to spreading joy with this particular mural, Simms knew it all had to start with the right colors. “I spent an afternoon at my local Dunn-Edwards paint store just staring at colors and laying them on the floor. The color palette I chose made me smile. That's how I know it’s right,” she explained. For Simms, like other muralists Cloe Hakakian and Steph Rager, Dunn-Edwards paints are trusted components of her art (see the color palette used below).

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The mural spans 2,500 square feet and is divided into multiple sections: a space scene serves as a new backdrop for the school’s UFO-for-climbing toy; another wall is emblazoned with “it takes a village,” a phrase dear to the hearts of the school’s owners; while yet another portion of the mural depicts fruits and vegetables holding hands, the inspiration for which was personal to Simms. “My 2-year-old nephew loves pointing out all of the fruits and vegetables he sees," Simms said. The artist hopes their presence leaves a lasting, healthy effect on students. “I’d like to think that the more kids see [fruits and vegetables], the less foreign they will be and, hopefully, the kids will be more likely to interact with them in real life,” she added.

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Simms believes that community murals help foster connection to one another and to a place. Be it children or adults, onlookers or volunteers, Simms noted that people tend to open up around the art and share stories. It’s a point underscored in the artist’s very work at Our Village Preschool itself — it was with the help of volunteers that Simms completed the 2,500 square feet of mural in just 48 hours. It takes a village to raise a child, yes, and to also paint a mural.

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All photos courtesy of Wylie West Creative