Janelle Hyde, in white, and Rain Morgan, both 14, are part of a Random Acts of Art Workshop, through the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery, painting a mural on the Kwik Kopy building at Front and Exmouth streets in Sarnia. The project, expected to wrap up Friday, is part of the gallery’s Mural Madness program. (Tyler Kula/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network)

Sarnia’s newest mural is taking shape at Front and Exmouth Streets.

A troop of 15 teens are bringing new life to the east-facing wall of Kwik Kopy, painting the 15-foot-tall and 42-foot-wide façade as part of the latest Random Acts of Art (RAAW) Mural Madness workshop through the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery.

The annual JNAAG workshop this year teamed up Sarnia-Lambton youngsters with Toronto-based artist Dan Bergeron.

“I think you can’t really measure how much these kids are learning or what it might inspire in their futures,” said Shelly Mallon, art collection officer with the gallery.

“Maybe it’ll put them on a path that we never would have guessed.”

Lessons learned over the four-day workshop aren’t limited to artistic technique either, she said.

Budgeting, design, working with clients, even ladder safety are part of the syllabus, she said.

The mural design, thought up by the group earlier this week, includes a girl with a megaphone saying, ‘Art is power.’

“It’s a lot about conveying your own self-expression, your own ideas through art,” said 16-year-old Rachel Peterson, from Petrolia.

The self-professed lover of art, who does graffiti on the outside walls of her house – with her mom’s blessing, she said – signed up to gain more knowledge and grow as an artist.

“When you’re really passionate about graffiti, it can go really far,” she said. “It can be really intricate and detailed and people put a lot of love into their graffiti.”

There’s always a wait list for the popular mural-painting program, Mallon said.

“It’s so different than being in a studio – being out, being on a mural project,” she said.

Kwik Kopy owner Michael Hyatt said he asked for the mural after being impressed by past RAAW projects in the city.

“It happens to be my wall, but I have nothing really to do with it,” he said. “I’m just trying to help them out a bit.”

Bergeron, who said he often waits months for approval processes on public installation pieces, said he likes the immediacy of this project.

Accepting the gallery’s invitation to lead the workshop was an opportunity to change things up, he said.

“It keeps me on my toes, to work with kids,” he added.

He’s been providing instruction, but mostly letting youth lead, he said

“If they have more ownership and they’re more engaged, then they’re going to want to put more effort into it,” he said.

Original Article: http://www.theobserver.ca/2016/08/18/raaw-workshop-transforming-kwik-kopy-buildings-wall