Maria Gibbons and Daniela Gonzalez of North Las Vegas, both 19, have been nearly inseparable since first grade. They remember creating toy towns for their Littlest Pet Shop animals together, drawing all over their driveways with chalk and regularly visiting Aliante Library.
Their connection to the library later compelled them to create a diversity-inspired mural that now sits permanently inside the Kid’s Corner at the library.
The design was inspired by characters from Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” The mural was a school assignment for Gibbons, who had to create and oversee a service project through Valley High’s International Baccalaureate college-preparatory program.
“I chose Daniela to be my partner because she’s so artistically talented, especially in regards to cartoons and animation,” Gibbons said. “I knew that I could trust her, that we would work together great.”
The two approached North Las Vegas Library District director Forrest Lewis last year.
“Then we met at the library and they showed me the several designs they’d done,” Lewis said. “The care and the time they put into the sketches made me know right away that they were serious about it. It’s a pretty amazing mural. To take that from a concept and blow it up on a space that large and put there is amazing. It makes it such an inviting place for families to come and hang out.”
The pair started the mural last March and had finished by May. Both 18 at the time, Gonzalez was attending Shadow Ridge while Gibbons attended Valley. They created the piece with diversity in mind, they said. Each child painted on the wall is of a different culture and background.
“Diversity is so important,” Gibbons said. “Especially in books. I don’t have exact numbers but statistically, white boys, men, are the most represented in children’s books. Women of color are the least represented. I wanted to make sure that women and children of color can see themselves in it. So they can feel included and feel they can accomplish what anyone else can.”