LOWELL, MA – The Greek community of Lowell is featured in a mural completed by Lowell High School students this summer, according to an article in the Lowell Sun.
“The tales of Greece – ancient and contemporary, real and mythological – were brought to Lowell with a wave of Greek immigrants in the early 1900s, and though their population in the Mill City has dwindled over the years, the community’s spirit is kept alive by those in the Acre,” the Lowell Sun reported, adding that “students at Lowell High School are preserving the cultural heritage and character of that Greek history in the form of a mural on the side of Sophia’s Greek Pantry on Market Street.”
“In collaboration with Project LEARN, a youth nonprofit based in Lowell, the teenagers are paying homage to the neighborhood’s Greek history with art,” the Lowell Sun reported, noting that the “the finishing touches on the piece” were completed in July “after nearly two weeks of work.”
“With paint and brushes, the high schoolers transformed the red-brick wall into their canvas, depicting classic Greek symbols: the Parthenon and Medusa, a Greek warrior charging a chariot into battle and Greek architecture, both in Greece and just feet away,” the Lowell Sun reported, adding that “rising senior Christian Ang and Pharrell Peau, who graduated in the spring, worked together on the final details of Lowell’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, whose gold Byzantine dome was visible from the mural.”
“Their art teacher and supervisor, Eric Allshouse, spent 15 years completing murals with youth in Lawrence before coming to Lowell last fall,” the Lowell Sun reported, noting that “on a trip to Philadelphia, Allshouse said he was inspired by ‘the power of public art,’ setting him on course to create his own works with budding artists.”
“Project LEARN is one of few local agencies that connect with students and teachers to create art in public spaces, an initiative that began in 2019,” the Lowell Sun reported, adding that “the eight Lowell High students and recent graduates seized on the opportunity to draw, sketch and paint their designs themselves, Allshouse said, while he made adjustments digitally with Photoshop.”
“An easy way to tell a story about a community, this time a Greek community, or tell a story about anything, is visually,” Allshouse told the Lowell Sun. “A lot of people walk by here, and some people maybe can’t even speak English, and they can still tell us that they like it and know what it’s about.”
“Project LEARN helped obtain the wall, getting permission from the building owner and approval from the Lowell Historic Board,” the Lowell Sun reported, noting that “the intention behind the effort was to honor the space in which it stood: The Greek community.”
LZ Nunn, the executive director of Project LEARN, told the Lowell Sun that “the Greek community has so many deep ties and roots to this part of Lowell in this part of the Acre… and [with] the mural being so close to the Greek church, this [is a] wonderful opportunity for worlds to come together and to really celebrate the Greek culture and experience.”
“The Acre neighborhood is still home to Greek-Americans and their businesses, including the Athenian Corner Restaurant, Olympos Bakery, the Hellenic American Academy, and Olympia Restaurant,” the Lowell Sun reported, adding that “as of last year, Lowell is also a sister city to Kalamata, Greece.”
“Valerie Georgoulopoulos, the owner of Sophia’s Greek Pantry, said customers are entering the store more upbeat because of the new pop of color right outside,” the Lowell Sun reported, noting that “her mother, Sophia, who founded the business more than 20 years ago, was born in Lowell to a Greek family.”
“Despite Greek immigrants leaving the city, Georgoulopoulos said the mural and Greek businesses signal ‘a small comeback,’” the Lowell Sun reported.
“Watching it from the beginning has been really, really special,” Georgoulopoulos told the Lowell Sun. “Everyone around here is so happy to see something like that go up. It’s really eye-catching.”