Skyline High School’s first floor has undergone a colorful transformation thanks to the school’s wall mural project funded by the school’s PTSO and the Dahlmann Grant from the AAPS Educational Foundation.
Student artists Kalee Murphy and Leah Canneart worked with mural artist Mary Thiefels of TreeTown Murals in Ann Arbor for several weeks to paint the first mural next to the choir room on the school’s first floor.
“The long white wall called us to action and we began a community mural that will part of Skyline’s history,” said Ann Hendrick, Skyline visual arts teacher. “Our plan is add a section or two every year until the long white wall is covered with our students’ ideas about their school.”
Students worked on the mural during fifth hour, and said they enjoyed the project, which they did as an independent study. “We want to take this all the way down the hall,” said Canneart, who said she wants to be an art director. “I love all kinds of art,” she added.
Canneart said the plan is to have a variety of different murals featuring different element of Skyline adorning the walls. Each mural will highlight a core curriculum class, school activity or club including music (the first mural’s theme), foreign language, theater, football, science and U.S. history, among others. Each mural will feature a Skyline student passionate about the subject being displayed.
Thiefels, who worked side-by-side with the art students through the process, said murals are great community builders. “Murals become a source of pride, share stories, evoke and stimulate thought, and bring communities together by sharing commonalities and creating celebration,” she said.
Thiefels said students develop leadership skills and learn creative problem-solving techniques. “It’s been an opportunity for them to share their talents and skills, to be role models and set a standard of achievement among their peers, to paint and have fun, and make a positive and lasting impression on their school,” she added.
Students first spent several weeks using Photoshop putting together the design for the wall, which included musical notes, a photo of student listening to music on headphones and a Skyline choir student. They used a projector to trace the design onto the wall, and then began painting.
The project is designed to reflect Skyline’s diverse students population and it’s motto of “Agile Minds, Big Hearts, Deep Question,” the student artists said.
Murphy, who wants to be a graphic designer, said she had never before worked on a piece of mural art, but has enjoyed it. “I definitely like doing the computer art,” she said.
“They have done all the work on the mural. I just wrote the grant, introduced Mary to some talented students, and watched the creativity unfold,” added Hendrick.
Thiefels, an Ann Arbor native, had just completed a 12′ by 40′ paint-by-number mural with third- and fourth-graders at Mitchell Elementary School with friend and colleague, Sarah Winter. “The project was such a huge success that I knew that had to be more opportunities out there like this one,” she said.
She studied art at Eastern Michigan, is active in the Southeastern Michigan arts community and has taught drawing and painting and led mural workshops with teens. “I believe mural art can teach us to be proud of so many things: our youth, our ability to express our creative ideas freely, to collaborate, problem solve, educate, tell stories and voice our opinions,” she added.
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