Marisa McCarthy left a colorful mark in Andover just days before she parted ways with her hometown and headed to Tufts University to embark on her freshman year of college.
McCarthy, 18, completed 104 hours of painting Tuesday at the Old Town Yard — a place that has become her second home for the summer. Her work on the the movable mural called “Welcome to Andover” will now hang in various locations around town, exhibiting her talent and hard work.
The four-panel, 5-by-20-foot piece of art tells the story of Andover from both a historical and present-day perspective. The panels transition from black-and-white images to color.
McCarthy said she chose all of the images displayed in the mural from books at the Andover Historical Society, which she said was one of her favorite parts of the overall project.
“I had fun choosing which historical photos to use and how to incorporate them,” she said. “I went with the most recognizable and most interesting pictures of how Andover is today.”
The first of the four panels displays a black-and-white image of a boy fishing at the Shawsheen River alongside his dog. It transforms into a color panel of Old Town Hall, accompanied by the historic Lovejoy Farm wagon stationed out front.
From there, the third panel again displays black-and-white images of mill buildings with participants from the annual Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Road Race running down the road. It ties together with a colorful fourth panel of people kayaking down the Shawsheen River.
“I like that I started with the river and ended with the river,” McCarthy said. “It really ties together the history.”
Across the top of the mural is the song title, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” on sheet music that portrays an American flag. The actual notes of the song, which was written in Andover, are painted below.
The mural is the biggest art project McCarthy has completed on her own. Her work over the summer was accompanied by a few challenges.
McCarthy used outdoor paint to create the mural, which she said dries very quickly and is not meant to be used for detailed painting like she did. Because the mural is movable, however, it is expected to make appearances outside.
The wheels of the Lovejoy Farm wagon, as well as the water in the Shawsheen River, also posed as big challenges to McCarthy, who noted their extreme detail and the caution she had to use while painting images of them.
The drawing of the mural was done through projection. McCarthy said she traced the projection of the image with a black sharpie to ensure all the proportions were correct on each panel.
Steve Fink, who served as McCarthy’s mentor through the project, credited her with the title of the masterpiece and the decision to tell Andover’s story from both a historical and present-day perspective.
“Everyone in Andover loves Andover’s history,” Fink said.
Ann Ormond, director of business, arts and cultural development, said the mural will make its debut to the public at Andover Day on Saturday, Sept. 7.
“This is the first community-driven mural,” Ormond said, noting the collaboration on the project between the Andover Historical Society and both school and town officials.
“It’s also the first step in public work everywhere,” she said. “It will spark the conversation about the importance of public art in the community.”
McCarthy will continue to grow her artistic talents when she attends Tufts University, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in studio art and environmental studies.