Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Kids turn artistic visions, talent into mural near Lexington Public Library’s Village branch
By Tammy Lane
Fayette County Public Schools
A group of youngsters who live in the Versailles Road area is busily painting a brightly colored mural near the Village branch of the Lexington Public Library. They’re filling an outline of the state with rows of tobacco and field workers, a barn, horses and a gray stone fence. It’s a nod to the Commonwealth’s past and present.
“We’re trying to capture the part of Kentucky that people don’t see. It shows the part that hasn’t been overcome with houses and cars,” said Aujia Hines, a rising ninth-grader at Lafayette High School. “We’re having a really great time, and it’s coming along really fast.”
Students from several schools are involved, including kids from Paul Laurence Dunbar High, Leestown Middle, and Cardinal Valley, Julius Marks and James Lane Allen elementaries. The project is a joint effort between the library and the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, which is based at Martin Luther King Jr. Academy for Excellence.
“The mural project evolved as the students at Village really took an interest in the art classes offered during the 21st Century summer program last year. The art classes were so well attended and the students were so engaged, we worked to brainstorm an idea to turn their artistic visions and talent into something valuable for the community,” said grants manager Lynda Frazier.
Rebecca Montaño-Smith, the library’s assistant branch manager, noted that the end of the building next door already has an expansive scene depicting an urban setting. “Murals are a Latin American tradition, and we had a big blank wall that faces Village Drive,” she said.
The library applied and received an EcoART grant to fund its mural, and this summer’s 21st Century students are making it a reality. EcoART grants from LFUCG’s Department of Environmental Quality and LexArts support creative efforts that get people thinking about storm water, energy conservation, recycling and other environmental issues.
“We’re showing the green space around our area. We wanted to do the rural, the countryside,” said community artist Luella Pavey, who is guiding the students during these few weeks.
Along the way, the kids are learning about the environment and their role as stewards of the earth. They’re also picking up bits of Kentucky history, such as who really built those miles and miles of stone fences. It was Irish immigrants, by the way, according to Ceairra Frazier, a rising fifth-grader at Julius Marks.
Ceairra, who has worked on the mural from the beginning, noted how the image contains a lot of detailed elements, saying, “It’s about the background of Kentucky and why we’re really special.”
Pavey brings her supplies to the site four afternoons a week and Saturday mornings, and she has been pleased with the response and enthusiasm. While the grant guidelines require that students be at least 11 years old to paint, younger kids have pitched in as well – laying down drop cloths, squeezing out rags and carrying paint containers.
“When you involve community in making a mural, it makes all the difference. It does add pride and ownership,” Pavey said. “This also gives the kids something to brag about at the end of the summer.”