The Community Arts Reintegration Project (CARP) for Westmoreland County will dedicate its completed mural at American Architectural Salvage (23 W. Main Street, Mount Pleasant, PA 15666) on Saturday, October 6, at 10 a.m. The mural, 15 feet high by 40 feet deep, shows the rich history that has influenced Mount Pleasant and made it what it is today. It has been titled, “History Leaves an Impression.”
“Through understanding this area’s history, we see the potential of a community built literally at the crossroads of two trails, and the carrying of that history into a future of collective community and prosperity,” said Tim Holler, PhD, assistant professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and director of CARP, in describing the scenes portrayed on the mural. “We hope that members of the community will come out and support the community-building and revitalization efforts of CARP and those members of the community who made this mural possible.”
The mural is the result of four “Paint Days” held over the spring and summer. Members of the community were invited to paint sections of the mural in a giant paint-by-number format. In addition to the time spent by Bernie Wilke, the artist/designer of the mural, 20 hours were clocked by community members in the painting of the piece.
CARP’s primary focus is to establish a proven method of reintegration into the community for justice-involved youth and restorative of justice in Westmoreland County. Restorative justice is the bringing together of persons who have a stake in a criminal event to build a collective resolution to that event. The arts in all forms are being employed to reintegrate and reestablish the youths’ worth in themselves and their communities. The Mount Pleasant mural project focused on reintegrating juvenile probationers back into the community and is CARP’s first local restorative justice initiative.
Holler noted, “We had 7 justice-involved youth who took part. The project allowed them to complete community service hours that were meaningful and everlasting. They can see their own work up in this mural for the next few decades, and the hope is that the connection they developed within our program and to the community members with whom they worked will help to carry them down the right path in life.”
Wilke, an art history professor at Westmoreland County Community College, developed the mural from ideas shared at public meetings held over the course of this past year. The mural features different aspects of Mount Pleasant and its history.
Also contributing to the successful completion of the project was Michael Diehl and Boy Scout Troop 478 (St. Benedict Catholic Church, Greensburg). Diehl helped with the mural as his Eagle Scout project by organizing volunteers to assist with the cutting and priming of the wood that was installed on the building. Other project partners included the Mount Pleasant community, the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Probation Department, and the Pitt-Greensburg Criminal Justice Club.
Funding for CARP and the Mount Pleasant mural has been provided by the following organizations:
- The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County Impact Fund, affiliated with the Pittsburgh Foundation;
- The McKinney Charitable Foundation, through the PNC Charitable Trusts;
- Westmoreland Community Action; and
- The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Center for Applied Research (CFAR).
Plans are in the beginning stages for CARP’s second mural, to be located in New Kensington.