In the back of Las Américas ASPIRA Academy, a new mural depicts an idyllic scene where wolves play in a stream, encompassed by a mountain range and surrounded by monarch butterflies. The scene is one created by Briana Yops, a seventh-grade student at ASPIRA.
When renovations of the building on Ruthar Drive concluded two years ago, the school decided to complete a mural in celebration. A design contest, in which students voted on their favorite artwork, resulted in Yops’ design being selected.
“The parameters were to incorporate some sort of nature scene. She went above and beyond and included some lobos – wolves – which are our school mascot, into it,” said Nicole Sturgill, who oversees outdoor learning, after Yops and her sister unveiled the mural during a ceremony last week.
The mural was completed with the help of Danny Martinez and Monica Lopez, local artists who have completed mural installations before.
While Yops designed the winning piece, families and members of the ASPIRA community were all a part of the effort. Volunteers came together to paint the mural onto a special cloth – parachute cloth – that can be used for adhering a mural to the wall.
“I’m just super proud of the drawing I did, and it’s so cool to see it up on the school and in like 10 years or something when I’m older, I’ll be able to see it too, which will be cool,” Yops said. “I also just love it so much. It turned out amazing.”
In its vivid design, Yops’ mural depicts a mountain range, rolling green hills and a stream where wolves play. In the foreground, a flowering tree blooms, and monarch butterflies float through the scene.
Margie Lopez Waite, head of school, said that it was exciting to see the completed mural.
“For so many years, the outside of our building really did not change. For it to have sort of a personality now, and then also then to have students involved in creating that artwork, that’s such a special touch,” she said. “It’s art, it’s student-driven and it’s also community-driven.”
Lopez said she and Martinez became involved with the project through a friend who works at ASPIRA and added that taking Yops’ original sketch and turning it into the mural went well.
The siblings also helped install another mural on the side of the school that features native plants that students can measure their heights against, a rainbow and more monarchs.
“We always say, and I always say, that like it’s good to help other people, especially kids, and inspire them to do what they like to do,” she said.
Lopez and Martinez have been involved with mural installations in Wilmington, including the Veterans Freedom Mural and the murals of the Creative District.
“I’m happy that she’s happy,” Lopez said, referring to Yops.
Yops noted that it was fun to see how other murals are created and all of the steps that go into it.
“It was cool because in our school, it’s like the community, so it was nice that a community helped make art that everyone gets to see and enjoy on the school,” she said. “I’m just really glad it turned out the way it did, from my sketch to this cool mural.”