This mural created by Ahmad Lee, also known as Reco the Great, includes a large jaguar and an eagle as well as writing utensils, ghosts and the Chicago flag. It was created as part of a beautification project at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School.

This mural created by Ahmad Lee, also known as Reco the Great, includes a large jaguar and an eagle as well as writing utensils, ghosts and the Chicago flag. It was created as part of a beautification project at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School.

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Artists, volunteers transformed King College Prep’s halls with murals

With the help of the organization Chi Gives Back, they turned the walls of the South Side school into canvases filled with art.

SHARE Artists, volunteers transformed King College Prep’s halls with murals
SHARE Artists, volunteers transformed King College Prep’s halls with murals

The hallways and classrooms at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School in North Kenwood looked a lot different when students returned April 19 for the first time this academic year.

Thanks to the work of a group of artists and about 100 volunteers one day in January, the walls at King College Prep in North Kenwood were now adorned with 15 new murals.

Chicago’s murals and mosaics sidebar

Chicago’s murals & mosaics

Part of a series on public art in the city and suburbs. More murals are added every week.

The project was part of an annual service event led by the organization Chi Gives Back, which worked with the group Paint the City to transform the interior of the school at 4445 S. Drexel Blvd.

“We really want this project and all projects that we do to reflect the fact that kindness does reside in all of us, no matter what ZIP codes we come from,” says Chi Gives Back co-founder Kouri Marshall said. “We really want students to understand that it’s important to also pay it forward.”

Ahmad Lee, an artist who goes by Reco the Great, was among the artists who contributed to the mural project. He brought in Paint the City, for which he’s a board member.

Ahmad Lee, 34, contributed to the mural project at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School. It’s one of roughly 15 publics art pieces he has around Chicago.

Ahmad Lee, 34, contributed to the mural project at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School. It’s one of roughly 15 publics art pieces he has around Chicago.

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Paint the City’s goal is to “paint every school in Chicago,” according to co-founders Missy Perkins and Barrett Keithley. They have six more schools lined up for similar projects.

A mural in Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School in North Kenwood features several sunflowers, including one with a person’s face in the center of it.

A mural in Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School in North Kenwood features several sunflowers, including one with a person’s face in the center of it.

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Lee says that, beyond avoiding political statements, school administrators let the artists choose the designs they wanted. His artistic contribution was a work featuring a large jaguar — the school mascot — and an eagle.

This mural created by Ahmad Lee, also known as Reco the Great, includes a large jaguar and eagle as well as smaller details such as writing utensils, ghosts and the Chicago flag. It was created as part of a beautification project at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School.

This mural created by Ahmad Lee, also known as Reco the Great, includes a large jaguar and eagle as well as smaller details such as writing utensils, ghosts and the Chicago flag. It was created as part of a beautification project at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School.

Provided

“I kind of just go with whatever pops in my head, and the eagle, for some reason, came in my head,” says Lee, 34. “Everything else just kind of flowed from there.”

Lee, who calls his style “controlled chaos,” also included images of a pencil, the Chicago flag and a flower.

“There’s a lot of things going on, big images that are easily going to draw you in from afar,” he says. “When you come in closer, there’s smaller messages, patterns and little stuff that you’ll notice something different every time.”

A mural with the saying “I have a dream” was painted at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School, with the word “dream” in large, sprawling graffiti-type letters.

A mural with the saying “I have a dream” was painted at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School, with the word “dream” in large, sprawling graffiti-type letters.

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Other creations include a mural filled with sunflowers and kids’ faces, the words “I have a dream” in graffiti-style letters and the words “Your only limit is you.”

The large message of “your only limit is you” was painted at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School Jan. 18 as part of the “MLK Jr. Day of Service.”

The large message of “your only limit is you” was painted at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School Jan. 18 as part of the “MLK Jr. Day of Service.”

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King College Prep students were among the volunteer artists.

A mural of a person doing a yoga pose with the words “Self Care” was painted at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School. The words “Live, Love and Laugh” are painted at the bottom.

A mural of a person doing a yoga pose with the words “Self Care” was painted at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School. The words “Live, Love and Laugh” are painted at the bottom.

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“I could literally tell that that’s going to push some of the art students to go bigger and better and also give back,” Lee says.

At Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School, there’s a new mural featuring a jaguar — the school’s mascot — and a person with large, blue hair.

At Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School, there’s a new mural featuring a jaguar — the school’s mascot — and a person with large, blue hair.

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A doorway at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School was painted as part of an “MLK Jr. Day of Service.” The door now depicts three children amid an abstract background that includes the Chicago skyline.

A doorway at Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School was painted as part of an “MLK Jr. Day of Service.” The door now depicts three children amid an abstract background that includes the Chicago skyline.

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Click on the map below for a selection of Chicago-area murals

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