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Check Out Northwest School Of The Arts' New Entrance Mural

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Nick de la Canal
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WFAE

How's this for a bright start to the school year? Northwest School of Arts unveiled a new entrance mural on Friday. The multi-colored art piece wraps around four cinderblock columns at the building's entrance - previously a drab gray - and spills down the front steps and onto the sidewalk, washing the entire entrance in rainbow colors, bright patterns, and images of notable artists and creatives.

"It looks like an art school now," Principal Melody Sears said at the mural's unveiling, "It doesn't look like a factory anymore."

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Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
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WFAE

The mural was completed in two weeks by local artist Rosalia Torres-Weiner with the help of volunteer students and adults. It was funded by a $22,445 grant from Charlotte's Housing and Neighborhood Services, with additional support from the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Association.

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Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
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WFAE
Rosalia Torres-Weiner

Torres-Weiner designed most of the mural on her iPad, and painted most of the hard-to-reach areas with help from a mechanical lift. Volunteers covered the parts closer to the ground. Some of the artist images, including Audra McDonald and Ray Charles, were painted free hand by students.

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Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
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WFAE

Other artists included in the mural are Misty Copeland, Billy Porter, Maya Angelou, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, and  Louis Armstrong.

Surrounding the mural's ceiling are 28 names of local community leaders and Northwest alumni. They include Walter Byers, Dorthy Counts-Scoggins, and Sarah Stevenson. The names were selected by the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Association and the Historic West End Neighborhood Association.

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Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
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WFAE

As reported by The Charlotte Observer, Northwest originally opened as the all-black West Charlotte High School in 1938. It's located on Charlotte's historic Beatties Ford Road.

Since becoming an magnet school with a focus on the arts, it's produced nationally-known Broadway performers such as Renee Rapp and Eva Noblezada. The school's resident theatre director, Corey Mitchell, won a Tony Award in 2015 for his work at the school.

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Credit Rosalia Torres-Weiner

Thelma Beyers-Bailey, president of the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Assocation, helped secure funding for the mural. She graduated from the school when it was Northwest Junior High (before it was an art magnet) and currently has a grandaughter enrolled.

She says more names could be added to the mural's ceiling in future years, if opportunities present themselves. "I think there's about 20 more spaces," she said.

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Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
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WFAE

Students returned to classes at Northwest on Aug. 26.