Strokes Of Genius: Stratton Students Create Mural
Three times a week, 15 third- through fifth-graders gather in Stratton’s main hall. They plan, create, and get a little messy. After all, they’re artists determined to finish a masterpiece—an 83-foot mural designed to awe and inspire.
The project is a component of Stratton’s curriculum, the art studio. Students devote weekly class time to a specialized area of art they choose, including music, drama, dance, and visual art. And because educators were encouraged to offer studio topics based on their interests this year, visual arts teacher Casey Kashnig developed a mural-painting studio.
Magnet site coordinator Emily Young helped Kashnig with the details. She’d recently teamed up with artist Mandy Danowitz, owner of Lola’s Brush, for an after-school mural painting project. After discussing the possibility of a mural-painting art studio, Danowitz connected Young with EKAH, a locally based visual artist.
“We aim to have guest artists at least once a year for each studio,” Young explains. “When students meet working artists, art becomes so much more real.”
EKAH, who studied art and design in New York City and Paris, has worked with clients such as Jim Henson Productions and Mattel Interactive. The idea for the mural itself was inspired by an EKAH piece featured by 40 North and MTD, featuring groups of animals.
Through the project, Young says, “The kids are learning how to share ideas, while at the same time, respectfully giving each other space. They see the way adults work together to make something happen. And they also learn different ways the arts can impact a community and the energy it creates.”
Along with mural painting, recent visual art studios have focused on set-painting for school performances, recycled art, photography, and graphic design. “We like to tie our art studios to other school projects and initiatives, so that we’re supporting Stratton,” Young says. “The mural beautifies our school with student work, and gets people excited when they see it.”
Young continues. “Another benefit of hosting guest artists is professional development. Teachers work directly with artists, so they learn new skills and techniques. Casey plans to take the skills from this project to get his own mural started.”
“We find that when our students get to work side-by-side with professional artists, they feel valued.”