Monday, October 22, 2012
New mural restores entry art at Bryan Station Middle, learning experience for students
By Tammy Lane
Fayette County Public Schools
After crews walled up the entry mural during renovations a few years ago, humanities teacher Bruce Barnett knew he wanted to install a fresh painting inside Bryan Station Middle School.
The mural covers several facets of school life, including athletics and music. (Photos courtesy of Bruce Barnett)
Eighth-grader Caroline Morton is glad he followed through, noting how the new artwork instills pride in students and tells visitors about their school.
“Everything is pretty much represented, with sports, math, reading. It says what we’re about. It shows we’re all together as one but we’re different. We do a lot here, and it’s a great school,” she said.
About 12 years ago, Barnett was instrumental in painting the first mural in the main hallway – a 60-foot wavy pencil with students playing around it. The recent renovations led to that art’s entombment.
Soon afterward, as luck would have it, the school planned to add a Bearcats motif in the gym, and Barnett offered to handle both murals.
“I was unable to include the students in the gym mural project much because it required working on a ladder on the back of the bleachers and would not have been safe for them, so I wanted to include them in every phase of the mural we would do for the hallway,” he recalled.
During the 2011-2012 school year, Barnett had his humanities students each complete three mini designs (3cm x 25cm) and then scale up their favorite to 9cm x 75cm. By the end, he had about 600 designs to choose from for the 9×75-foot wall. After consulting with his classes and school administrators, he pulled in elements from three of the most popular submissions for the final mural.
“Everybody, from all the academic departments to the cheerleaders, all wanted their images up. It’s about representing everybody,” Barnett said. “I tried to make what people wanted a little more artsy to make it both enjoyable and a teaching tool.”
Before school started back in August, he primed the wall and drew the basic outlines. Since then, students worked on the mural in groups and individually both during class and after school.
“We got to go out there and experience it. It really helped me understand the elements in class. It summed everything up for me. Physically doing it really helped me understand it, rather than learning from a book,” Caroline said. “We went over principles of art and things you could do to make it more real. Then we’d come out and try shading. You could definitely recognize what we’d learned.”
Barnett agreed the mural has complemented his lessons.
“There were cross-curriculum aspects of scaling down and scaling up designs, and the elements and principles of art are all utilized in the mural design,” he said. “As students were exploring a new media and process, they were learning the language of art.”
After he adjusts the Spanish translation of the school’s mission statement, the mural will be finished.
Or will it?
Barnett plans a schoolwide contest to solicit new images, and Principal Lester Diaz mentioned thepossibility of installing real computers within the mural to run student videos, PSA’s and calendar items.
“Some of the pictures will be changed out,” Barnett said, noting, “Public art by definition is interactive.”