Nicole Bourgea with her son Bosco at her mural in Wheaton of multicultural dancers. Photo by Michael Ventura

Editors' Pick

Best Addition to the Public Art Scene

Montgomery County is experiencing something of a mural renaissance, with bright paintings covering walls in shopping centers, parks, garages and other buildings around the community. Kensington resident Nicole Bourgea, 40, created some of the new and noteworthy public art pieces, including the 45-by-88-foot mural “Tradition Is a Part of Us, Humanity Is All of Us,” depicting multicultural dancers on the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission headquarters in Wheaton. The mother of five found inspiration for the mural while watching her son who has Down syndrome dance with his brother. Dance can be a common language for people with all kinds of differences, she thought.

A professional artist for about 15 years, Bourgea began creating murals about two years ago. She was drawn to their public nature as a way to share the beauty and hope that art offers, without the need to travel or pay to see it. She has painted about 20 murals around the county, in Wheaton, Kensington, Rockville and Bethesda. When possible, she has community members participate in creating the mural. Some helped her paint “Hold Your Light,” celebrating the neighborhood of Ken-Gar in Kensington, and “We Rise by Lifting Others,” commissioned by the town of Kensington and the Jubilee Association of Maryland, which helps adults with developmental disabilities. For the Wheaton piece, she invited people to dance and pose alongside it as she worked.