For weeks, a group of Saint Ignatius College Prep students took a walk after school down Taylor Street to a garden in the city. Their goal was simple: to use their talent to leave something beautiful in the community we all call home.
Their project, which bloomed this spring, began with Fine Arts teacher Emily Steffen. She is a volunteer with Taylor Street Farms, an urban garden and collaborative community. Its mission includes growing produce for families who are food insecure -- good work for others, that was about to come back to them.

Turns out, the garden has a tool shed that needed a makeover. The Saint Ignatius Art Club made the small structure their canvas, drawing a garden-themed picture including bees because Taylor Street Farms is also a bee sanctuary. Leona Bergin ‘24 who started the Art Club on campus was excited to found the group and be a part of the project.

“Starting the Art Club was really exciting.  It showed me that I can genuinely make a difference within my school if I have an idea and others to help,” said Bergin, “The mural project taught me that I could make an even greater difference. My club mates and I created a piece of art that we hope will bring joy to the Chicago community even after we have graduated. That has been a great honor!”

It seems like it was great fun, too. Brush stroke, by brush stroke, the mural came to life. We watched as students painted in the sketched picture one sunny May day. 

Elsie Fernandez ‘26 said, “I honestly love the peace of painting, the feeling it brings and just being able to work on the mural with the whole entire club.” 

Fine Arts teacher Teegan Ness loved how the mural introduced something students can’t get in a classroom.
“They’re learning a new skill. Painting on a giant wall is a difficult thing. Following a pattern we’ve traced makes it hard to put the puzzle pieces together sometimes. They are learning how to do something we couldn’t achieve in the classroom setting, where we couldn’t work at this large of a scale,” said Ness.

She and Ms. Steffen watched the students work with pride - especially because the project helped them live Saint Ignatius College Prep’s values.

“I love that there is an imprint of Ignatius here at the Farm, and I think the Farm exemplifies being a Person for Others,” said Steffen, “A lot of the plots you see on the Farm have vegetables that are grown for families in need, and are donated. It’s just a nice place to show our Jesuit values and also contribute to a community that we feel exemplifies those values as well.”

If you’d like to check out the students’ finished mural, just go to Taylor Street Farms at Taylor and Ada (it’s right behind a Chicago Public Library branch). You’re in for a treat!

Saint Ignatius College Prep

Saint Ignatius College Prep, a Jesuit Catholic school in the heart of Chicago, is a diverse community dedicated to educating young men and women for lives of faith, love, service and leadership.