In the spring semester of 2009, I had a chance to work with the students of Art Honors Society and Art Club at Thomas Edison High School in Northeast Minneapolis. We were sponsored by the school to paint a mural in the stairway. Our art teacher, Ms. Bliss, told us that we could paint anything we wanted to as long as it looked nice.
So in our first meeting, we brainstormed together on what we wanted to paint. We agreed that we wanted this mural to be owned by everyone at school and that it would tell us something about the school. One student suggested that we do a survey, asking students what they thought about the school. We all thought that was a great idea. On the next day we handed our a piece of paper with one question, “How does Edison help us to grow?”
Then Nicole Drilling, who is an artist and was then teaching math and leading Art Club at Edison through Teach for America, had a vision of using the letters to make a pattern. The pictures below show how the words from the students at Edison are weaved into the picture.
On top of the words, there is a tree lady, releasing butterflies into the air. For each person, the butterflies would mean different things; it could be our talent, hope, dream, caring, potential, energy, or many other things. In this place, students, teachers, and staffs explore all these possibilities.
From the laying down the grid on the wall, tracing our drawing, laying down underlayerint paint, stenciling letters, painting colors in, until signing our names, we had many challenges. We were once afraid if we could finish it. Painting this mural was definitely more work than we thought. But we kept at it. We were so PROUD when it was done. We titled it Released. As Nicole was writing the title on the top of the ladder, we were all holding our breath. Finally when she came down, we were released too.
Here we are putting the first layer of yellow.
We are tracing letters from our own plastic template, designed by one of the students.
Released, Thomas Edison High School, 2009