Last year on Core Values Day, Mr. Matthew Stevens led a group of students in creating an inspirational mural in the EHHS Library Media Center. Five months later, the mural is still lined with painter’s tape and mostly bare, besides the multicolored words “Create Your Own Future” centered on the wall. Students are starting to wonder what happened to the progress of the project. After talking to Mr. Stevens himself, I can assure students that the recent halt in progress is almost over.
The idea of the mural first came to life during a meeting with the EHHS instructional leaders. Mr. Stevens said, “One of the Instructional Leaders proposed the idea to do a mural during Core Values Day [...] Lisa Veleas I believe.” Mrs. Juliet Goraieb, Library Media Specialist, was also on board with the idea, as she had previously requested some new artwork to be added to the library. Mrs. Goraieb states, “I think we need more art at this school. I think our school should reflect our students and their creativity and their vision of what school should look like.” Another factor that drove the idea for a new mural was the fact that the preceding art piece in the space where the mural now resides was created by students who went to EHHS over ten years ago. When asked how she felt about the mural idea going forward on Core Values Day, Mrs. Goriaeb said, “I was actually really excited because we had something that I felt was a little outdated. It was a mosaic with students who had graduated. A goal that I always have for the library is to keep it current.” Both Mr. Stevens and Mrs. Goraieb agreed that it was important to represent the artistic talents and creativity of recent students.
Then May 20th came around: the day to initiate the project. Twelve students, including seniors Julissa Torres and Taylor Crisco, headed down to the library for their Core Values Day event. Mr. Stevens mapped out the phrase “Create Your Own Future” in the center of the blank, white wall. According to Taylor, the painting was a pretty lax process, “He was basically like, everyone pick as section, pick a color, and paint.” The students filled in the words with color and also created a colorful border around the periphery of the wall, outlining the entirety of the space the mural would take up. Though it seemed the mural was on the right track, after the first day, no concluding steps were taken. Tape still covered the wall and there were parts of the border unfinished. With it being the end of the year, when things are most hectic and everyone is ready for summer, it is understandable that this mural took the back seat. However, within the first quarter of the next school year, the mural still looks as it did on Core Values Day. Curious about why the mural was left untouched, I went to Mr. Stevens to investigate.
In our conversation, Mr. Stevens revealed the grand plan for the LMC mural. It wasn’t that the mural was forgotten, rather, there are more exciting intentions involving the student artists within our school community. Mr. Stevens explains, “The idea is to have areas floating around the central text, with five different interpretations of the theme ‘Create Your Future’.” Mr. Stevens claims that the central text will be completed within the next couple of weeks so that the real project can go underway. Though he admits he has not advertised the idea quite yet, Mr. Stevens hopes to put up posters to invite five or six volunteers to each paint a section of the mural and hopefully within a year or two, the mural will be finished. It seems that a lot of the creativity is left up to the volunteer students, with Mr. Steven's approval of course. When it comes to choosing who will be the artist volunteers, there may have to be some consideration. Mr. Stevens says, “I want it to look nice, so I’ll probably have students submit ideas and then pick the best five or six.” Two years may seem like a long process, but he wants to make sure the chosen students have the proper amount of time to complete their work. I even suggested making it a community service opportunity, one which a student could earn hours for their laborious efforts working on the mural. Now that the plan for the mural has been revealed, the entire school community should be excited about the new decor that will soon cover the LMC wall.
Some may question why I am trying to bring light to this mural in the first place. I think what enticed me most about this topic was what the mural could do for the future of art in EHHS. Not only would it be a creative outlet where student artists could express themselves and a way to bring students together, but the mural also represents the importance of incorporating art into a center of learning. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of art, and the benefit it can have on a school environment. I’m not just talking about art education per se, but having visual art surrounding where you learn is not just for aesthetics; it spikes creativity, spreads emotion, and promotes open-mindedness. It calms and heals and invokes true passion within you, just by looking at it. Art is powerful. Mrs. Goriaeb said it best, “Color brings warmth to an area and it echoes the cultures within a school. I think art is bigger than just painting or drawing, it's something that conveys emotion and feeling. I think we should have as much art as possible around us in all aspects of our lives, at home and especially at school.” This mural could be the tip of the iceberg, the catalyst to incorporate as much art into our school environment as possible for the benefit of all.