The city of Lawrence has been publicly maligned for years. Media reports emphasize gangs, crime and the 2018 gas explosions that devastated the community and forced thousands of families out of their homes for months.
Lilli Leggio, an art teacher at Esperanza Academy,a tuition-free, independent middle school for girls,discovered that this negative image is impacting the city’s young people.
“There is a dissonance in disliking where you are from because it is, in a way, disliking an inescapable part of yourself and sometimes you leave/run, trying to escape the connection or stain without fully understanding why,” said Leggio. “This is how a community loses talented young people and human capital.”
This fall, Leggio was approached by Haffner’s, an energy company founded in Lawrence in 1925, with the idea of wrapping an oil truck in student artwork. Excitedly, the school created the “Art is Everywhere: Lawrence is a Masterpiece Contest” to create and choose the artwork for the truck.