Through her large public murals, Greta McLain gives voice to the people who are traditionally left out of the historical and cultural narrative. When given the chance to design a mural for their cafeteria, the students at Green Central Park School in south Minneapolis included photos of themselves and symbols that represent their cultural heritage.

Write about your cultural identity. If you were to create a mural that captures your identity, what attitudes, customs, symbols, beliefs, and/or experiences would you include?

Greta says that physical spaces tell you how you’re supposed to feel and behave within them, and that a mural can create a different zone that empowers people with its choice of images.

Envision how you could redesign a commonly used space. Think about what the space currently tells people about how they should act there, and what changes you’d like to see with a redesign. Do you want it to be more welcoming? More calming? More orderly? What are the different ways you could transform it? Draw or make a diorama of the “before” and “after” spaces. Ask your classmates what messages each space communicates. Were you successful in carrying out your vision with the changes you made?