Young Artists Create Downtown Saline Mural that Sends a Message of Happiness


Saline fifth-graders Isla Patterson, Paloma Saldaña, Evelyn Kuslikis and Sophia Shark created this colorful mural in downtown Saline.

Students in Saline Community Education’s mural-making class were finally able to see their hard work and creativity on display in downtown Saline. After a late start to the class and a complete shutdown towards the end, the students persevered and were committed to finishing the project, which was installed Jan. 29.

Fifth-grade students Evelyn Kuslikis, Isla Patterson, Paloma Saldaña and Sophia Shark created the mural in the art class, which met twice a week for four weeks.

The mural is based on the style of Brazilian-born artist/muralist Romero Britto. Students were introduced to the artist’s work, especially Britto’s use of color and pattern, as a jumping-off point for their designs. From there, the students went in their own creative direction and started painting on day one.

Evelyn Kuslikis enjoyed using paints during each class.

“My favorite part was that it was fun to be creative with paints,” said Kuslikis.

Each student painted their design on a 2x4 ft panel. The panels were combined to create the complete mural. The class encouraged students to express themselves individually while within the context of a larger piece.

Paloma Saldaña appreciated the process.

“My favorite part of creating my piece was the thought and creativity I had to put into making it, and the fact that people can see the personality put into it,” said Saldaña.

Students decided on happiness as an overall theme for the mural. After painting a background of shapes, patterns and colors, they sketched symbols that represented happiness to them, such as music, frogs, balloons and butterflies.

Students traced their symbols on their panel by using a projector.

The young artists are hoping their message comes across to viewers.

“I want people who see it to feel calm and happy while looking at it,” Kuslikis said.

Sophia Shark agreed.

“The theme is happy, so I hope it makes people happy,” Shark said.

Saldaña expressed the same.

“Since my piece had a lot of colors, shapes, and angles to it, I think I would want the viewers to respond to it as joyful, creative, and happy,” Saldaña said.

The mural is temporary and the young artists are already thinking about the next piece. Nature or animals seems to be the direction.

“I think we should do a nature mural with birds to go on the side of the library by the nature preserve,” Kuslikis said.

Saldaña included an additional component, realism.

“For the next mural in Saline, it would be nice if it were more realistic but still popping and colorful to the eye,” Saldaña said.

The temporary mural, which was approved by the Saline Arts and Culture Committee and the City of Saline, is on display in the parking lot off North Ann Arbor street in downtown Saline.

To sign up for classes, visit Saline Community Education at

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