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Love’s the theme for Aurora’s largest mural

MelissHedlund is spearheading Art Jam Saturday as part her nonprofit The Light Heart.  |  Sun-Times Medifile photo

Melissa Hedlund is spearheading Art Jam on Saturday as part of her nonprofit, The Light of the Heart. | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: September 28, 2013 6:07AM

Love. It means something different to every person.

Which is why The Light of The Heart Executive Director Melissa Hedlund chose it as the theme for her latest undertaking: a 96-square-foot mural, which will be unveiled Aug. 31 in downtown Aurora.

Created by nearly 100 artists of all different ages, backgrounds and abilities, the Mural of Love will be the largest mural in the city of Aurora. Each artist poured their raw expressions of love into the community-wide project that Hedlund spearheaded.

“It’s a gift,” Hedlund, who runs The Light of The Heart, a non-profit art therapy program, said of being able to provide so many people with an outlet for expression. “I’m hoping that this opens the door to future murals being in Aurora. I feel its just the beginning, really.”

In January, Hedlund conjured up the idea to create the community collaboration. After gaining city approval, she chose the back patio of the River’s Edge Cafe as her canvas.

“I wanted something out there in the world for people to see. Something that was visible and would stop people in their tracks,” she said. “It had to be large because I wanted all groups represented; all populations, backgrounds and cultures. And, that happened. It was beautiful.”

So, asking the question, “What do you love?” Hedlund invited everyone to be a part of the project. Three painting parties were held at Culture Stock bookstore downtown, and artists from all areas of the city gave their hands (sometimes literally) to the project.

One family has their handprints embedded into the mural as a declaration of their love to one another, others drew landscapes or pianos or giant eyes.

For those who didn’t get a chance to paint, Hedlund has slated an interactive portion of the mural for ongoing participation. Visitors will be able to use chalk to create their masterpieces on one portion of the mural in Hedlund’s effort to continue the community conversation.

“I wanted to remind people of what’s important in this life. With all of the horrific things going on in the world, I wanted to remind people what to truly focus on. We forget that in our day to day. All of these horrors exist, and we can get lost in that.”

“It’s amazing what people have created here. It’s powerful and beautiful,” she said.

Join The Light of The Heart for the unveiling of the Mural of Love on Aug. 31 at 2 p.m. at the mural’s home, the back patio of the River’s Edge Café, 14 W. Downer Place. The Mural of Love will be unveiled during the Alley Art Festival.

“Stop by to connect, be a part of and witness the power of love, art and community,” Hedlund said. “I do believe that art and love will change the world.”

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