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Fantasy world sets sail at Harriotte B. Smith library: Military spouse paints mural to captivate children’s imagination

By Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera | | May 8, 2014

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When Gwyn Korpi visited the Harriotte B. Smith Library aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune with her children, she couldn’t help but notice an empty wall in the children’s section.

 

“I saw the big empty wall, and it begged for a mural,” said Korpi, a military spouse.

The mother of three saw an opportunity to use her skills as an artist to captivate children’s imagination through her mural.

 

Korpi spent her nights and weekends for over a month painting the wall, hoping to complete it before the library closed for renovations. 

 

It was important to her to bring art to Camp Lejeune’s youth. 

 

“Art livens up the space, so kids can really use their imagination,” said Korpi.

She designed the mural specifically to pique children’s interests. The mural’s fairy tale world is populated by a pirate, a squire, a princess, a dragon and mermaids, each of them enjoying a book.

 

“I wanted each kid to have something to relate to and be interested in,” said Korpi.

 

The mural features characters reminiscent of popular children’s tales. The pirate could have walked from the pages of “Treasure Island.” With the mermaids, the mural could evoke thoughts of Neverland, the home of Peter Pan, on a quiet day between adventures.

 

“The themes are universal to kid’s stories,” said Korpi.

 

The mural appeals to both boys and girls and to children of all age groups, said Judy Bradford, the library manager.

 

“The children are really in love with it,” said Bradford. “The kids show it off to their parents, brothers and sisters. Everyone is really impressed with it.”

 

The mural was something the library staff looked into for years, however, finding the talent and funding to create it proved to be a challenge. When Korpi asked about it, Bradford thought it was a blessing.

 

“We’re so grateful that she offered to do it,” said Bradford. 

 

The project was not only a gift to the library and its patrons, it also motivated Korpi  to create more art. Before coming to Camp Lejeune, where her husband is stationed, Korpi worked as a graphic designer and now freelances, creating murals, portraits and illustrations.

 

Whether it’s by teaching one of her three young children a few techniques, or sketching them as they play, Korpi infuses art into her day-to-day experiences.

 

“It’s what I do for fun,” said Korpi. ”It’s my passion.”

 

According to the artist, painting the mural did not feel like work to her, it was an inspiring experience that infused more art into her daily life and allowed her to share it with the Camp Lejeune community.

 

“She has a special talent, and she shared it with us to bring joy,” said Bradford. “We’re very grateful for all of her hard work. We know the kids will appreciate it for years to come.”

 

For more information about the Harriotte B. Smith Library, call 451-3026 or visit www.mccslejeune.com/libraries.

 

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