This year he asked again but I was ready for him. I suggested that I would use this as a teaching time, invite my students to come and received his OK to bring students to create, plan and produce this years mural. Using facebook and email I invited 15 of my best painting students to join the program. Six took the offer and came every day for the entire week.
I had no real idea of what we would do. I felt that if I was to allow the students to really participate I would need to relinquish control of the creative portion to the team. We worked in an atelier method for a full week. We met starting the Friday before the in-service sessions, and continued daily except Sunday. In total, they worked about 30~40 hours each. We worked together to plan the mural to be original yet appropriate to this year's theme "Learning Heart to Heart". The problem was to communicate this idea without using obvious trite images or symbols. No one wanted to use little cutesy hearts.
We struggled together with concepts for two full days. The sketches were quite terrible. Finally, somehow, we came up with repeated hand-prints in some kind of pattern. We later established a unifying grid of 5 bands or stripes across the image to hold it in a kind of controlled patterning. The canvas is comprised of three large canvases each 1.33 x 1.9 meters (50 x80") to make an overall piece of 4 Meters wide by 1.9 M tall (160 x 80")
First, we all painted sky cloud-like forms and overlaid tints of pinks, light blues and yellows as a kind of field painting. Afterward we masked off five equally divided horizontal sections and mixed up rich full-tone colors on a glass palette, rubbed our hands into the fat paint and all six students and I planted hand-prints on the large mural ... over and over and over. We worked on this for 2 more days laying more and more prints.
On Friday, at the in-service closing dinner, we presented the work to the director, the entire staff , and the teachers. We asked everyone to come up and place their own prints on the canvases. The staff were directed as to where to place their hands in the colored paint and where to place their print. We had board members, teachers, teacher-aids, kitchen, janitorial and guardian staff and their spouses and children all waiting in line to place their respective marks. It was very a special time.
The work will soon be mounted in the large multi-purpose room where we eat our lunches, and have assemblies, family events, exhibitions and festivals. This years work will hopefully over-shadow last year's cartoony and weak attempt at a meaningful response to the in-service theme.
This year was a much more rewarding experience and event; and the result stands well against both the objectives of the Director and yours truly. The students are to be acknowledged. The work communicates its meaning without fail. - T