Proviso students with a team of artists, including lead artist Hector Duarte, standing in front of "Dance of the Lightning Bugs." | Submitted photo

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ComEd officials unveiled a 100-foot by 30-foot mural by world-renowned artist Hector Duarte, who had some critical assistance from a group of Proviso High Schools District 209 students, during a brief ceremony on Oct. 22.

The luminous, larger than life mural, entitled “The Dance of the Lightning Bugs,” depicts insects flying in blades of grass that foreground the Chicago skyline, which looms as a silhouette in the background.

The mural was installed on the outside of a garage that sits directly in front of the Tech Center on the ComEd Tech Center Campus, 1319 Maybrook Drive in Maywood. ComEd funded the mural, which cost around $100,000 to complete. 

“This mural is really a melding of our community, the environment and how they’re in harmony together,” Fidel Marquez, ComEd’s senior vice president of governmental and external affairs, said at Monday’s unveiling ceremony.

Terry Donnelly, ComEd’s president and COO, said that the utility firm challenged students from Proviso East, Proviso West, and Proviso Math and Science Academy to create a work of art that “captures the spirit of exploration at our Smart City Lab, here at Tech Center.”

Donnelly said that workers at the Center, which is located in a gated campus just off of Maybrook Drive, are working “on what it takes to become the utility of the future.” The company, Donnelly said, is exploring new green energy sources, more personalized customer service as part of this push to innovate.

“ComEd is always looking for new and creative ways to engage our communities and our future workforce through STEM education and work programs,” he said, “but I haven’t seen anything quite like this. This is pretty innovative.”

The mural, which is made of synthetic paper, was a summer-long project spearheaded by Duarte inside of a gymnasium at Proviso East.

ComEd hired Chicago Public Art Group, a nonprofit coalition of professional artists who work with communities to produce public art, to manage the project.

“We have to do this great work we do lighting up the city and surrounding communities and providing all these great services, but we have to do it without impacting nature,” said ComEd CEO Joe Dominguez. “And the harmony we seek to obtain is the harmony displayed in this wonderful mural.”

Nicole Howard, D209’s assistant superintendent for academics and family services, said that the mural is the result of multiple phases of revisions and changes that were driven, in large part, by students like Emmanuel Escuito, who worked on the mural from start to finish.

“I still can’t believe we did that,” Escuito. “This was a surreal dream of mine, but I believed that this process would totally be in my future.”

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