Walls of creativity: students design school mural

Nyla Bell, Photo Editor

Each year, art teacher Michael Guyer struggles to get senior students motivated. By the second semester, seniors seem to be less creative in their bodies of work. To combat this, Mr. Guyer came up with the idea of giving the graduates a collaborative project that would end up leaving a lasting mark on the school. This year, the seniors are painting a message postcard mural by the elevator.

“Mr. Pritchard, let me know that the yellow walls by the elevator would be a fantastic location for a mural by my students, as (because) he did not like the yellow color of the wall that had been there since the school opened,” Mr. Guyer said.

The seniors got inspired by the vintage postcard murals that enhances a lot of major cities in America. They followed the “Greetings From” (on one part of the wall) concept to make it more alive for students and guests, who live in the selfie age. The murals on both the right and left sides of the wall beside the elevators are connected by the National Blue Ribbon seal. The Art 5 class wanted to celebrate the award with a mural that showed why the award is such a big honor for us.

The mural by the elevator is being designed by the seniors in Art 5 and being painted by the entire class. The main collaborators for this project are Lindsay O’Neil, who is the leader of the postcard wall, Caroline Branch, who is the leader of the Wildcat part of the wall, and Salina Rodriguez, who is the leader of the Blue Ribbon part of the wall.

“We have only been working during class hours so we have an hour and a half each for twice a week,” Lindsay O’Neil said.

This project was funded by the parents of two seniors in the art class, the PTSO, and the senior class.

“Those who helped fund this project are as important as the artist who designed and painted it. We feel very lucky to have such a supportive community,” Mr. Guyer said.

Students who participated in this project gained experience and grew academically while working on this sizable project. Students had to work together to brainstorm, choose the best idea, design, and pitch their ideas to the principal in multiple office meetings.

“Oh boy, I probably went through at least ten different versions of the same drawing. We all collaborated as a class really well and came up with what we think is the best one,” O’Neil said.

The students had to raise money for the mural, organize supplies, and transfer their digital art, and use the latest illustration technology.

“Not only are the students skilled, but they have also demonstrated a very dedicated work ethic to complete this mural before the end of the school year,” Mr. Guyer said.

The art class has created other murals. In 2015 the art class started to design the senior wall and had a mural design competition for the entrance to the DRHSART Gallery hall. A former student, Mona Dandan, who now goes to Virginia Tech, won the contest and was named the leader of the mural outside the art wing. Two years, for her senior project, Andrea Palmer made a mural in the music hall. Last year, under the guidance and direction of the art teacher Carey McCray, a group of senior students painted a mural to commemorate the theater department, which sits at the end of the theater hallway. In 2018 the art classes also painted the JROTC mural by their classroom.

Next year, Mr. McCray hopes to commemorate the STEAM initiative in education by finishing a mural he designed to put in the space between the woodshop and photography classrooms.

Collaboration and teamwork are skills that will be needed as students look to their future education and careers. Rising seniors will hopefully continue to work to beautify and leave a lasting impression on the school.