Local art students transform YMCA basketball court into ‘playful art’


The YMCA of the Rock River Valley’s outdoor basketball court, along the Rock River, is being transformed into a piece of “playful art” by muralist Jenny Matthews.

“When you’re doing a basketball court, you need to keep the lines of the court that are required for game play on the court,” Matthews, a visiting artist, said. “So, that was the first thing that we knew we had to put in the design.”

Matthews says her design is inspired by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

“He has, in his stained glass, all these big curves and straight lines and squares and rectangles. So, I started looking at his stained glass pieces next to the basketball court, and it just seemed like a perfect fit,” she said.

Matthews is guiding a group of six apprentices from the Rockford Area Arts Council’s Arts Place program. Students are excited to be a part of such a big project.

“This is very geometrical,” said student Jahi Raed. “So, there’s a lot of shapes involved. And, many things that you draw, it has a lot of shapes, except this is just a larger picture and it’s still equally as thrilling.”

Each summer, dozens of kids like Jahi take part in new experiences with Arts Place.

Paloma Velascom, of Arts Place, said, “We’ve done metal smithing here. We’ve done this mural with guest artists. We do formal painting. We’ll have print making. All these kinds of experiences that they’re not necessarily going to get in a high school setting.”

The mural will be finished on Thursday. The Rockford Area Arts Council will be responsible for the upkeep and integrity of the mural.

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