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Thursday - April 21, 2011 03:08:41 PM
Stepping UP Public Art in Public Schools

The class was meeting only once per week for around 4 hours for a field trip related to observing art at galleries and such and then writing about it or making small pieces. We had put in a formal request to the district office to create a mural and were expecting to be denied (the district policy has always been no murals on the outsides of buildings). They granted us permission, mainly because the mural cannot be seen from the road. It is behind our school in an area that the horticulture department has been considering gussying up for a hang out spot during our lunch periods.


Given that the permission to paint was a complete surprise, we set aside our curriculum and immediately switched to discussing public art: murals, messages, script, graffiti, mediums and methods etc… I wanted the kids to be able to brainstorm potential meaning/message/content and subject. Uncertain whether that was a mistake or not.


It was difficult to find agreement and time was running short, so we did some really hard and fast democratic voting on the basics and used the chalkboard in the classroom to develop ideas. For example, we voted theme (urban vs. nature). They wanted nature. Realism vs. Surrealism. Focus on Social Message vs. Composition. Etc…


We had one tagger / character artist and one person into calligraphy and script. The rest of the kids were just into being part of a group project. I decided to ask the class to focus on stenciling with some limited freehand stuff. I think it helped to get everyone involved and helped us avoid domination by those with more experience with the medium (drawing, enlarging, cutting stencils, taping, spraying, etc…).Kids that had specific ideas they wanted to incorporate had to draw those up and present them to the group for voting. There were occasional hurt feelings, but in the end everybody was happy with the final piece.


Art Primo would love to say Thank you for raising the bar to the kids that contributed to the mural; Erik Rodriguez, Conrad Burge, Yasmine Babiker, Erika Cruz, Jessica Mil, Tanya Nemencio, and Carina Arroyo.
Also, to their teacher Sam Koss, we need more teachers like you in our school system!
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