Painting equals knowledge: Maywood Hills Elementary students dabble in art, history with mural project
April 1, 2010 · 4:25 PM
Martin Luther King Jr. A cheerleader. Gandhi. A girl jamming on a guitar. Mother Teresa. A youth in a wheelchair playing basketball. Cesar Chavez.
These are just a few of the images that, for the most part, students themselves chose to be part of a mural going up on what amounts to four outdoor walls at Bothell’s Maywood Hills Elementary School.
Covering both sides of an angled, two-way, outdoor walkway at the school, the project was launched by two somewhat older students, Athena Mace and Miriam Keith, current and former art students at Cascadia Community College.
“One of the kids drew themselves as a super hero,” said Mace, by way of explaining the presence of a caped figure that appears on one of the walls. Several younger students also mentioned some fantasy elements, the reason behind the dragon and the fairies.
Mace said the budding mural grew out of a Challenge Week event at Cascadia’s Service Learning Center. Mace and Keith had done projects with Maywood students before and somehow just came up with the idea of the mural, which replaces a deteriorating, older decoration.
To help them decide what to include in the new mural, Mace and Keith gave Maywood’s students the fairly easy assignment of listing their favorite activities. The answers came back mostly as drawings of kids bike riding, of kids skateboarding and so on. Mace and Keith took those ideas and wrapped in the faces of the four world notables already mentioned along with a quote from each. They then did a rough drawing of what is now going up on those walls at Maywood.
For the new mural, Mace and Keith also got some help from other Cascadia students. Mace said about 25 Cascadia volunteers helped her and Keith draw the outline of the mural on Maywood's walls. Maywood students are coloring in the basic outlines with Mace, Keith or both looking on. First, the pair are giving the younger budding artists some painting tips.
“Really, we just wanted to let them know they can have fun... One thing we tell them is, it’s paint,” said Mace, who recently received a 2010 All-Washington Academic Team medal from Gov. Chris Gregoire. “It can all be fixed.”
According to Mace, she and Keith have not had to do as much clean-up as one might think. She said that, basically, students are allowed to pick what part of the mural they want to paint. Mace and Keith demonstrate how to get the paint on the brushes or sponges, one main goal being not to get too much paint on those brushes and sponges. The kids are then asked to try and keep the paint within the outlines of the drawings as much as possible and not leave too many brush strokes.
For their part, Maywood's students seem to be enjoying the experience.
“I just like being a part of it,” said Brandon Hudson, 6.
“I think it’s pretty fun just to come out here a lot,” added Logan Hough, 7.
Mace said work on the mural started the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day and she hopes to have all but finishing touches complete in about two weeks. The final steps will include putting on a graffiti-resistant top coat.
Mace wanted to make sure Cascadia’s Learning Center received the credit she said it deserves.
"The Service Learning Center really gives students the opportunity to pursue their passion,” she said.
Mace also had a good word for Rodda paints and local Rodda paint stores, which donated the paint and equipment for the mural.
In the case of both her and Keith, the mural certainly seems to be in line with what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Now a Cascadia graduate, Mace plans to continue her art studies at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Both she and Keith hope to someday operate art studio/centers of their own, working with children and the public to promote the arts. They try to promote social issues in their art, as well, with Keith working on a series dealing with clean water, while Mace wants to shed some light on the problem of human trafficking.
As for Maywood's mural, Mace said she's excited to see the project coming to fruition.
"I just can't wait to see how it all works out," she said.