A Wonder Works museum patron enjoying the theater's new mural. Courtesy of Mary Ellen Wilson

Mary Ellen Wilson jumped at the opportunity when Wonder Works Children’s Museum approached her about adding a mural to its theater. Wonder Works, located at 6445 W. North Ave. in Oak Park, gives kids a chance to explore anything from performing onstage to shopping at a pretend farmers’ market.

Wilson, a local artist who has been painting for 15 years, was given a blank wall opposite the museum’s stage and titled her mural “Lights, Camera, Action!”

“The wall happened to be a perfect canvas,” said Wilson. “I really liked the dimensions: no trim, no windows and a huge area to work with.”

Defining herself as a “primarily abstract painter,” Wilson wanted the mural to give the impression of a diverse audience looking at the stage.

“It’s all about pretend and make believe and everything having a double purpose,” she said. “Murals make you feel like you’re in the painting.”

One of Wilson’s favorite things about painting the mural was having an audience of her own while she worked.

“Kids [at the museum] would watch my progress and that’s part of the educational experience: learning colors, learning patterns, that’s where kids start,” she said.

Wilson incorporated saturated colors, strong shapes and patterns into her mural, giving it a playful, warm feel.

“That’s what the rest of the museum design has,” she said. “I didn’t want the mural to look like it was a ‘page from a different book,’ but rather that it fit into the overall look of the museum.”

The public unveiling of the mural is this Sunday, Oct. 10 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the museum. Pictures of the mural’s progression can be found at maryellenwilsonblog.blogspot.com. For more information about Wonder Works Children’s Museum, visit their website at www.wonder-works.org. 

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Evan O'Brien is the content manager of OakPark.com. Soon after Evan was born in Chicago, his family moved to Oak Park for the same reason that attracts people to the "World's Largest Village" today: the...