From a blank wall to a work of art: The making of the Read Together mural

The Read Together mural celebrates the joy of reading in a big way.

The new piece of public art in Charlotte is part of Read Charlotte’s effort to spread the Read Together message far and wide, about the importance and impact of adults and children reading together. The practice is a small way to make a big impact in a child’s life, building literacy skills that will help them be successful in school, and inspiring a love of reading that lasts a lifetime.

The artwork for the mural was inspired by third grade students at Oakhurst STEAM Academy, who worked with their art teacher, Justin Earp, to dream up illustrations of what reading looks like through their eyes.

“I’m so proud of our third graders for helping make this mural possible!” Earp said. “The imagination and creativity of our students is an inspiration to me every day. They were all so excited to give input in the creation of such a large and important work of art in our community.”

Muralist Scott Nurkin describes his creative process to third grade students at Oakhurst STEAM Academy.

Muralist Scott Nurkin of The Mural Shop visited Oakhurst in fall 2023 to meet students and kick off the project, explaining his work as an artist and describing both the creative and practical process of creating a mural.

“The students were in awe of all of Scott’s work that we were able to share with them,” Earp said.

The students came up with dozens of beautiful, creative takes on what reading means to them, and one major theme emerged: Reading can take you anywhere, opening up new worlds and perspectives from right where you are. From there, Nurkin began sketching ideas to combine different elements into one cohesive mural.

“When I went through all the students’ drawings, it was fascinating to see their individual imaginations come alive,” Nurkin said. “With the Read Charlotte mural, I wanted to try to capture the way your mind creates a visual illustration to accompany the story you might be reading. I painted a fantastical scenario inspired by the students’ drawings that included sharks and dinosaurs and dancers, and space, of course, as a nod to the Oakhurst Rockets.”

The mural location was set for just down the street from Oakhurst, at the family-owned and longtime Charlotte staple Morris Costumes. The owners, one of whom attended elementary school at Oakhurst, graciously agreed to allow their building to become the mural’s home.

Nurkin started painting in late December, transforming the wall little by little into the work of art that lives there today. It was completed in January 2024, featuring an adult and child reading together, with worlds of imagination expanding over their heads.

We hope you love the mural as much as we do at Read Charlotte, and that you’ll stop by to see it in person (tag your photos with #ReadTogetherCLT!). This project truly embodied community, with so many organizations and people coming together to make it happen. We’re so thankful to everyone involved!

Photo gallery: The making of the Read Together mural

The making of the Read Together mural

Video: Behind the scenes of the making of the mural


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