"Pearls of the Universe," a 70-foot-wide mural just east of Wheaton's downtown, was dedicated Sunday as a symbol of the city's diversity and to celebrate the impact immigrants have had on the community's growth and success.
Funded primarily by the city's fine arts and community relations commissions along with private donations, the $6,000 work of art on the side of Jeannine Clinton's Essencia Yoga studio at 1026 College Ave. was painted by R.J. Ogren, a retired Disney artist. The mural tells the story of Wheaton's immigrants and some of the individual journeys that brought them together in the heart of DuPage County.
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"I am thrilled with this project. It has turned into a major piece of work for me," Ogren said Sunday.
Ogren began work on the mural in mid-July, taking his inspiration from a poem, "Pearl," written by Mehret Asgedom. Now in her 10th year as a language arts teacher at Franklin Middle School, Asgedom moved to Wheaton from Ethiopia in the 1980s.
Among those there for Sunday's unveiling was Laurie Swanson Oberhelman.
"This is all about immigration, diversity, and people coming together," she said.
"We have been following this since it started and we are fascinated by it," added city resident Henry Schnabel.