By Ann Leach

You meet folks all the time who knew at an early age how they wanted the future to look, but there aren’t a lot of them who actually applied the time, energy and skills to make the vision a reality.

Meet 16-year-old MaKenna Hawkins, who is doing just that. A Webb City High School junior, she’s had an interest in art her whole life. “When there’s downtime at work and school, I will often doodle,” Hawkins said. Work is at Hot Stone Pizzeria in Webb City,  a place owned by Kayla and Jim Weatherford, who have a family of five and have eaten a lot of pizza over the years. They wanted to create a family-centered restaurant perfect for game night dining and other special events.

Hawkins has been working for the Weatherfords since their opening in May 2022. Shortly before she reached her one-year employment anniversary, Kayla Weatherford approached Hawkins about creating a mural for the side of the building. “I told her I thought it would be a great idea,” Hawkins said. And then she got to work designing some ideas. She identified her three favorites and showed them to Weatherford and together they decided on the final design.

“I got the paints and got started drawing the design on the building,” Hawkins said. “I measured out all of the shapes and letters by hand, sketched them in pencil and that’s been the most time-consuming part of the project so far. It’s also been difficult to carve out good painting times due to the extreme heat the area experienced the past couple of months.” Chances of rain also limit her available painting days, but she is managing the heat by getting up early in the mornings to work on the mural.

The challenging elements have not deterred Hawkins from this project or her interest in pursuing art in her future. “I’ll hopefully have it as a career,” she said. “And I hope to keep doing murals along with offering all kinds of graphic and 3D arts like painting, pottery and other mediums.” She is also interested in architecture and interior design.

And even if she decides down the road to do something different, MaKenna Hawkins is convinced that art will always be relevant in her life. “It will definitely be part of my future in some way,” she said. “I have enjoyed getting to see my progress over time and watching this mural come together. Everyone I work with has been helpful in supporting me, and my mom has helped support me a lot throughout the entire project.”

Hawkins is completing the mural now and will have an interesting story to share when fellow students and teachers ask, “How was your summer vacation?” Drive by Hot Stone Pizzeria and check out her work.

See more photos in the September 2023 print edition or online digital edition.