Well, it was a looooong winter! To say that students and teachers alike were all ready for a break by April was an understatement. However, we did something that kept us going. We had a purpose and a project thanks to UConn. By April my classes had produced 6 collaboratively designed murals. I noticed early on that getting the kids the art kits was one thing. Having enough consistency between students to all produce fully painted artworks was quite another. We took those challenges of inconsistency and turned them into positive expression.
We did it all. We did basic drawing and painting lessons, appreciation of master artists’ work especially muralists work. We played games. We talked casually and we talked supportively with students that were struggling and wanted share. My students and I talked about identifying emotions and their corresponding colors. It helped to just talk sometimes. Confusing times require flexible teaching.
We definitely had our successes. Classes started with a wave of good positive energy when the art kits were distributed. January was productive. February was ok. March was just LOOOONG and that’s where it all changed. Our learning model (Virtual/ Hybrid/ In-person) changed 2 or 3 times in that time period. I would get on a groove with a group of students and then it was like HEY! Mr. Gilmore we need this cohort to change, Bye-Bye united classroom! Kids were in-person. Then they were virtual only. The switching was crazy. No Consistency!
Somewhere around December of January the kids seemed to relax into that schedule and we did well. Some of the themes for creating murals were: Celebrating Diversity, The culture of Food, Celebrating Our Cultures (Hartford/USA, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Brazil). Collaboratively, we produced the all of mural designs that you see here.
However, time passed. More kits were given out until the beginning of spring break. I got my vaccination in full by April 8th and I was then, back setting up to teach in-person AND Virtually. Spring Break has come and gone. I now get the opportunity to do some painting in-person with some kids! The 4 mural line drawings designs that are pictured below are now like huge coloring books.
I took the kids’ ideas and drawings and paintings and put them into one composition. My classes will get a print out of the design and add color as a sketch. Finally, we will have each class fill in the colors to fully paint the compositions.
It’s been great to get some kids painting on these kid designed murals. I am excited about that! This is what the mural intervention program should have been sans Covid. However, Covid has made me rethink art teaching and expand the process of community mural making to something I had not thought of before, me as the surrogate painter to what could be kids and community members from all across the country. There is a method that is scalable here and it is engaging!
We’re in the home stretch of Covid School, 8 weeks to go! These are going to be some PACKED 6 more weeks! TONS of good work yet to do. School is far different than when I left In-Person school back on March 13th, 2020. The art kits are still essential, even in-person. It makes my art life in pandemic school way easier. I know we will get the 4 murals painted in and installed. I am unsure what we can accomplish otherwise. However, I do know we can do hard things. I do know we will come away with beautiful creations that all students both in-person and virtual can feel proud about adding their part to a larger good for their community in difficult circumstances.