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Marietta native’s mural gives new look to Boys and Girls Club

Fence painting pic on social media leads to commission

Charles Ellison, left, tosses a ball as Colton Hanson flips in the grass next to the new Boys and Girls Club mural in Marietta Monday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

When life hands you time, get creative.

At least that’s how Marietta native Kyle Burnworth, 40, of Columbus, faced a coronavirus-induced layoff this spring.

“I lost my job in May due to COVID layoffs and restructuring and it’s been hard, but one day I was laying in my hammock at my house and looking at my fence and thought, ‘that’s boring, I want to paint it like I said I would years ago,'” she said.

Burnworth had spent the last 17 years in service operations, rising to a directorship before the economic effects of the virus paused that trajectory.

“It’s been pretty devastating and difficult,” she said.

So, grabbing a couple rollers, some acrylic paint and brushes she went to work, adding sunflowers and a butterfly to the wood contrasting with a deep blue background.

Little did she realize, that creative release would lead to a commission back home in Marietta, with the opportunity to add new life where children at the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County can play outside.

“We saw it first when we went out to the garden,” said Charles Ellison, 9, of Williamstown. “I like it because it’s ours, it says Boys and Girls Club on it.”

Ellison traced out with one hand the butterfly flying across the new mural at the club’s eastern exterior wall, facing the train tracks that run past the brick facade in Marietta’s lower west side.

“We hired Kyle after we saw her work on her own fence on Facebook,” said Becca Johnson, executive director of the club. “[It’s] a good complement to the artwork already along the building.”

And one which has already drawn forth more educational discussions about science, with opportunities for playtime along the grass under the watchful eyes of a frog, caterpillar, butterfly and hummingbird.

“I don’t have professional tools and I didn’t train in art, but I enjoyed just getting out to create,” said Burnworth.

She said utilizing acrylic paint and a clear spray paint sealer, she mostly drew inspiration from internet images of the animals she drew, first in chalk and then painted.

Colton Hanson, 9, of Marietta, said the details were his favorite parts, as he did backflips in the grass strip in front of the mural Monday.

“The hummingbird is cool, but my favorite is the caterpillar,” he noted.

But most of all, the two boys said, having a sense of ownership of the space, was the coolest part.

“And it’s their wall, so that’s exciting to have some ownership in that,” added Burnworth.

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