MINERVA, Ohio (Jordan Miller News) - A former Minerva native has returned to provide new artwork for the local village.

Professional artist Matt Kress returned to his hometown to create the mural of the mythical Roman goddess 'Minerva,' located near the 200 block of Minerva's North Market Street.

Kress, a 1994 graduate of Minerva High School before attending Kent State University, now resides in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"I made the move to Florida in 2013," Kress states. "I stayed in the business world for most of my years here and tried to build my art following. I started doing art shows in [St. Petersburg], and I've always been full-time. Now I've been an artist for about two-and-a-half years."

Murals became a trade for Kress, who said he never originally expected to be working on such big projects.

"The more murals I get there, the more my name gets out there. They're almost like billboards all over town with my name on them," Kress added. "I keep getting busier and busier. I've done walls in Tampa, I've been down to Fort Lauderdale now to do some artwork...it's been a fun journey."

When he received the call to work on a mural in his hometown, Kress was "honored" to work on a project that gained traction over the last year.

"I've got a lot of friends that I grew up with that try to follow my journey, and they've been kind of pushing to make this thing happen for a year. About a year ago, it finally gained some traction. They were like, 'Matt, let's do this.'"

Though the village of Minerva is named after Minerva Ann Taylor (whose uncle, John Whitacre, took part in the early-1800s settlement that eventually became the village), the goddess is depicted in Roman mythology as the original goddess of wisdom, justice, law, and victory, as well as the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy.

Kress added that the idea was suggested by the mother (Joni Stryffeler) of one of his high school classmates: "It was like a light switch went off in my head. That's great for Minerva, it's symbolic [for the] town...I started doing some renderings, and it kind of just all fell together. I was honestly honored and humbled that Minerva would think of me to come back and do something like that."

Kress cited the Minerva Arts Council, as well as the 'Visit Canton' Stark County Convention and Visitors' Bureau and the village of Minerva, as organizations that made the mural possible. The last of which, Kress says, contributed to "the best I've ever been treated while doing a mural. Dozens of people would stop by on a daily basis to make sure I was okay, to bring me drinks or a sandwich. Just to have that pouring out of friendships, and to do it in small-town America...it was so great."