Sterling Heights

New Sterling Heights mural to blaze a trail using augmented reality (AR)

A new mural in Sterling Heights will use augmented reality (AR) to bring the artwork into the next dimension. Artist Wendy Popko has been commissioned by the city to work with AR company Electrifly to create the mural on the south-facing wall of Ventimiglia Italian Food's at Dodge Park. 

Electrifly has worked with other muralists in the Detroit area to bring art to virtual life, including Chris Dyer's "Reef Diver" on 8 Mile Road, but Sterling Heights will be one of the first suburban areas in Michigan to offer this experience through public art. Plans also include the state's first installment of an interactive game in the experience. 

Sterling Heights resident Popko has created several murals in the region, and was approached by the city to design a mural that represents the word "active". She plans to begin work at the site on May 1 and said she hopes to be finished by mid-July. 

"The image highlights our trails of land and water," Popko said. "We bike, and walk the trails of Dodge Park and paddle kayaks down the Clinton River. Between the physical activities and the techy twist, I am naming this mural 'Trail Blazer'."

Popko said she reached out to Electrifly after being introduced to AR by Stephen Couchman and his team at Steam Box at the Velocity Center.

"I was hooked," Popko said.

"I’m a Gen X gal. Never did I think we would have this type of opportunity to blend one of the oldest forms of art (murals), to a fast-paced form of connecting that has transformed the world."

Zach Mattan from Electrifly said he is excited to be working on the project. 

"Augmented reality redefines how people can view, interact with, and create memories around public art," said Mattan. "As natives of metro Detroit and second-generation immigrants, we are very excited to bring this immersive technology to such a vibrant and diverse community in our backyard."
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Kate Roff is an award-winning freelance writer and journalism educator, currently based out of Detroit. She is the managing editor of Metromode and Model D. Contact her at