“If I leave my artwork here, I leave a piece of me here,” said Christine Antonsen, 10.
She, and every student at Beverley Farms Elementary have painted a mural, in 38 panels, which will be displayed at the school’s entrances.
Of the various aspects of designing and painting the mural, the facet which seems to have most captured the imagination of several students is that it will remain after they have gone.
The students spent time speculating on whether people in the future will understand references to current pop culture phenomena like Harry Potter, Kobe Bryant and Dragonball Z.
“It also portrays our personality,” said Liam Sullivan, 10.
Each student made the decisions for what they would depict individually. Each student drew a picture of what his or her part of the mural to be. Knowing that their work would be juxtaposed with others which could be radically different from their own didn’t phase the children.
“We knew that, no matter what, it would never match,” said Laura Sperling, 9.
“That’s what was cool about it, because everyone’s was different,” said Anna Kimelblatt, 10.
Beverly Farms’ Art Teacher Claudia Pavlin and artist-in-residence Tara Holl then transposed the student’s drawings to the panels.
She and Pavlin tried to get a range of different grade levels on each panel. “We tried to remain true to their design,” Pavlin said.
In what made the effort truly an all-school collaboration, students were then assigned to paint someone else’s picture. “We talked a lot about working in design teams,” Pavlin said.
“Everybody’s got something in there,” Christine said.
The student’s enjoyed the mystery of not knowing whose work they were painting. “You could be painting your best friend’s, you could be painting some random kindergartener’s. You don’t know,” Liam said.
“It was good because it let them go outside themselves,” Holl said.
Some of the drawings were more difficult than others, but some of the students developed an appreciation for taking the time to do difficult work. They gave an example of one drawing of a ship which included a lot of detail.
“At the end it looked really good, and you’re glad you spent a lot of time on it,” Anna said.
She was one of several fifth grade students who spent her recess helping to fill in bits of the mural. “You have a lot of memories of it,” Liam said.
After all of the pieces were painted, Pavlin and Holl taped them off and the background was painted. “The Kindergarten did most of the background,” Pavlin said.
The students were then allowed to go back and make changes to the choices others had made. Some students were open to the different ideas that the painters my have had about a piece, but others weren’t as happy with the more radical interpretations.
“We had to go back and change the colors of the sports balls,” said Ryan Beckett, 10.
The murals were then sealed with polyurethane to preserve them.
Beverly Farms parent Steve Beckett has done much of the installation, going so far as to carve out parts of the backs of the boards to fit around electrical conduits without damaging the work.
“The parents here are just marvelous,” said Holl. “It was a big effort.”
Once installation is complete, the murals are expected to remain there through a proposed renovation in at least a decade.
If the plan is followed, some of the students who painted these murals will likely have earned a Bachelor’s Degree before they are taken down.
“It will be fun when you come back from high school and they’re still here,” Liam said.