We thought we would take you behind the scenes to share what went into the making of this mural.
I (Carin Lilly, ms art teacher here at Shelburne) was approached this summer by the Climate committee to create a mural for the playground that would contain the playground rules. When sharing this with Pete Boardman, one of the elementary art teacher's here at SCS, he got excited as well. Initially, we thought we would just quick do a simple mural that such as pop art words, saying "safe, respectful, responsible" and include characters the students chose... but then we started to think deeper about art and murals, and the culture and tradition of mural making. Here was an opportunity to really create some meaningful learning experiences! We instead decided to incorporate the mural making into a whole unit that was linked to student learning, their community, and the artworld--a much more in depth process of discovery, connecting and creating. This involved artists in residences, studying murals in cultures, older students teaching younger students, creating artwork in conjunction and relationship to the mural. This process is called community based art, and gets at the heart of why we, the SCS art teachers, teach and create.
The Burlington/Shelburne community has its share of murals and muralists and we loved the idea of bringing one of them in to create a work of art with the students. As Pete and I are artists ourselves with some murals behind our belt too, and with that pesky bottom line which is always in mind, we decided we would be the "artist's in residence" and design a mural that incorporates both of our styles of working into one piece as well as pull in the students's input (Champ anyone?). We brainstormed iterations of my abstract/patterning aspect of my work with his landscape work and eventually ended up with a boat bearing a "safe, respectful, responsible" sail, sailing on Shelburne Bay, Camel's hump in the background with triangles flowing/floating away out from behind the boat towards the mountains. Champ and the "rules" make an appearance in the water. The idea behind it was that our students as individuals are sailing the boat and by using the everyday expectations they are sailing and putting positive vibes out into the world, represented by the colorful triangles trailing behind them. Champ fully supports this and is headed in the same direction, too!
-photo of Shelburne bay to come--
With the help of the PTO (yay!), we obtained the funds for the supplies of paint, brushes and boards. After some back and forth with Dave Kelly and the Climate committee and errand running (Thank you Aubuchon, Lowes and Vermont Paint Company!), we had all the materials and were ready to get started.
Pete mapped it out, and Dave and Randy trimmed the shape. (Pete's style is NOT rectangular. Don't put him in a box ;)
And now for the two months of messiness: Pete worked with his third through fifth graders paint in the shapes and colors of "his" part of the work. In the meantime, the middle schoolers were researching the murals in the Philadelphia mural project and creating Pecha Kucha presentations (a specific format often used for presentations in the design world) to present to the younger students. The middle schoolers also took part in the One Word project (one word that describes their "ideal" self) using lettering styles that often show up in murals, such as graffiti, block, and 3-d lettering, and the 4-5 students did Pop Art lettering as well.
After Pete's students wrapped their part up, it was then the middle schoolers turn. What makes this part so fun is showing them the initial sketch and letting them interpret it their own way. In small groups, with guidance, students mapped out the triangles (the little floaty turn at the top?! My favorite part. All them), They painted in the triangles in the bright colors, and then went back over areas for touch up. The final part was adding in the lettering--the "playground rules" were written by all different students in order to get all different types of handwriting in...
Voila. A mural. Finished and ready to go up!
Working with the principals and Dave Kelly, we mapped out a spot to hang it, and up it went.
COMMUNITY ART PROJECT:
The climate committee who commissioned it
The administrators who supported it
The PTO who donated the funds for the paint
The maintenance crew who did a lot of the cutting and heavy lifting
The art teachers, aka artists in residence (oh, wait, that's us above!)
The hundred(s) of students who touched a marker or brush to the piece!