A vibrant mural was unveiled today at Collier Elementary School on Tucson’s east side, showcasing a blend of realism and cartoonish whimsy, and inspired by the students’ love of reading.

Local Tucson artist Allison Miller spearheaded the two-week project, with the school granting her the creative freedom to bring the vision to life.

Miller, the creative force behind the mural, was enthusiastic about the project.

“I think this is one of my favorite projects,” she said. “The kids were very much involved in helping come up with a design idea.”

The project got its start when a friend of Miller’s, a teacher at Collier Elementary, recommended her.

“I went to the school and met the staff and the children, and I couldn’t say no,” Miller shared.

The school gave Miller the flexibility to complete the project on her own time, allowing her to devote a week to design and another week to painting. The mural can be seen on the outside wall of the west end of the building.

“They just gave me free range, so I don’t have to go back-and-forth and do any redesigns,” she said.

Principal Lisa Langford emphasized the importance of art at Collier Elementary, stating that it “has always been like a pillar of our school.”

Langford highlighted the influence of the Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) program, which encourages students to connect art with their academic studies.

“These ideas came from our students, and so it is so nice to see that we value literacy and reading, and somehow we have communicated that to our students the love of reading, the love of literacy, the love of wonder,” Langford said.