murals in the valley: local artists are bringing new life to the walls of the valley


The vibrant town of Harrisonburg, Virginia has always been an artistic hub, boasting a thriving community of creatives and visionaries. Among them stands an extraordinary artist, who not only shares her passion for art but also leaves an indelible mark on the city’s walls, literally. Meet the talented and passionate muralist, Laura Thompson, a former art teacher turned full-time artist, on her journey to create a colossal mural that will transform a blank canvas into a vibrant tapestry.

“I was a public school art teacher for 13 years. I was a corporate marketer for six years almost. In December of 2022, I quit my job, so that I could start doing art full time. Now I teach classes to mostly adults here in the Shenandoah Valley. I call them ‘stress free classes for busy adults,’ and then I also show my artwork. Currently, I’m working on my first large scale mural. I did some murals when I was a teacher with my students inside that were much smaller scale but this is like my first big project. I go big or I go home I guess.”

For her debut mural project, Laura is working on a prominent wall in the heart of downtown Harrisonburg on the MODdisplays building, a bustling area! The mural’s location perfectly encapsulates her vision of weaving art into the fabric of the community, making it an integral part of people’s daily lives. “Street art is super important because it is a type of art that is accessible to literally anyone who is walking down the street. When we think about art, a lot of the times we think about art galleries or museums and I feel like that is an elevated style of art that feels out of reach for certain people. With street art, you just run into it. It’s an assertive kind of art, but also creates an environment that sparks creativity and playfulness that otherwise might just be boring and mundane. It makes us stop and think about beauty. Emotions come up in a way that otherwise we wouldn’t even be aware. Street art also draws tourism so it can be really great for the local economy. I’m finding that I am connecting with a lot of people while I’m making this mural. They get a better sense and appreciation for the process as the mural morphs and changes,” Laura explains as she rolls gray paint onto the wall.

Laura’s creative process is a captivating dance of inspiration and meticulous planning. Months of research, sketching, and collaboration with the building owner pave the way for the final masterpiece.

“In this case, the building owner was really gracious and giving me a lot of artistic leeway. I gathered inspiration from the people who work here at Mod. They made a spreadsheet and wrote different imagery that they thought could be included, inside jokes that they had, and inspiration from Harrisburg. I was able to collaborate with the people to make this mural. Sometimes the artists will just find a wall that they think looks boring and needs decoration and mockup a sketch and then take it to the owner to get permission. Here in Harrisonburg, we have the Public Arts Forwards Grant for two more years. Each of the years, there’s a $15,000 grant amount that will be given for any public art, murals, sculptures, etc,” Laura affirms.

As the mural nears completion, excitement builds within Harrisonburg’s artistic community. The grand unveiling promises to be a memorable event, filled with celebrations of creativity and the power of art to transform lives. For Laura Thompson, the mural project is not just a stepping stone in her artistic journey; it’s a testament to the power of creativity and the impact one person can have on a community. Through her passion and dedication, she leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire generations of artists and art lovers in Harrisonburg and beyond.

As the sun sets over the Shenandoah Valley, casting a golden glow on Laura’s mural, the city embraces the artistic transformation that has taken place. And as we stand in awe of this colossal masterpiece, we are reminded of the enduring magic of art, forever woven into the tapestry of Harrisonburg’s vibrant soul.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *