It's a New Year with many renewed expectations to tackle tough issues in our local and regional communities. There will be triumphs and there will be set backs to be encountered. Some set backs are blessings in disguise, but they aren't immediately seen as such when they do occur. Today's topic is one that isn't new nor unique it has possibly been presented in a myriad of different formats. Perhaps as numerous as the communities that gave birth to them in practice.
Allow me than to indulge your time to present another version of how it can be conducted for our public school youth. Since private schools, certain charter schools in affluent neighborhoods, or other private religious academies aren't impacted like the inner city public schools have been, and continue to be. My twist of a mural graffiti arts program for inner city youth in a public school district borrows heavily from other venues.
A hearty Kudos goes out to the "City of Philadelphia's" murals arts program going on for over thirty years time since the 1980's.
Mural Arts Program
As I bow to their contributions to they're own local region in combining divergent needs and forming a collective solution. At least in terms to serving the community, public schools, and most certainly the students involved in such endeavors. I would like to present my own interpretation of such a community and public school partnership initiative.
For instance instead of traveling outside into the community itself to paint neglected neighborhood walls. I aim to keep it in house within the school grounds itself. For instance looking for opportunity walls in the exterior or interior of the school campus. If not other concrete barrier walls or fences if such are available. Such concrete walls can be erected off to a corner of the physical education school grounds. Perhaps start off with one concrete block wall to being erected, that is divided into sections. Allowing several smaller graffiti murals to being painted throughout a school class year. If the arts pilot program succeeds than additional walls can be erected over time as needed.
Following the similar Buddhist practice of "Mandalas" which are colored sand intricate portraits laid out. Than summarily destroyed via a religious ceremony by the Buddhist monks. This one concrete wall if not other opportunity walls that are part of the school campus itself. Will be literally white washed and painted over by either the custodial staff or the students themselves. Also another stipulation is no gang symbols can be painted onto the graffiti murals so as to maintain an inclusive learning environment. By avoiding conflict with any potential gang initiated students in such an arts graffiti mural program. Besides no gang land body language or gang colors can be worn by the students participating in such an arts program. If the public school district already promotes school uniforms than the concern of wearing gang colors by any students is muted.
The arts department faculty will hopefully have arts exposure to painting or supervising the painting of murals in general. If not local community artists can be invited as guest speakers and instructors to assist the arts faculty and to provide inspiration to the students. Be they in graffiti mural painting or in other art medium disciples so as to promote a diverse perspective of art itself. Both art faculty and students will be provided painters face masks and aprons so as to minimize accidents. Be it with inhalation of paint can fumes or accidental paint ruining a school uniform or personal clothing. If students can wear physical education school uniforms such as a T-Shirt and shorts than possibly all the better. So as to not have paint ruining a set of clothes.
Several different graffiti mural renditions can be conducted throughout a school year on campus. Be it as stated prior on opportunity walls as part of the interior or exterior building of the school campus. Or a separate concrete wall being erected out in the physical education grounds. With a gallery of walls in the future if the arts pilot program proves successful. Having the painting of said walls done singularly on a school campus promotes greater control of the student body in teaching and supervision.
When it comes time to erase or white wash a graffiti mural on a wall. Similar to the Buddhist "Mandala" practice there can be a ceremony tied to the event itself. This will be key since it fosters a sense of letting go and preservation at the very same instant. Where the teaching of the students will surpass the art itself and enter into a life lesson. As well one of the Funding Mechanisms will be derived by preservation of the graffiti mural in another art medium of photography. Having a professional photography on site either prior or during the ceremony to preserve the mural on film. Where said image will be presented in either a singular portrait or into a Mural Lithograph Series. Signed By the Art Students and listing the school class year as well on the original portrait.
The one photograph portrait or the graffiti mural lithograph series will be auctioned off in a charity fund raising event for such an arts program. So if several graffiti murals are painted throughout a school year. Than by class year there will be a small collection to be presented in a art gallery prior to the fund raising charity auction. Other funding sources for the graffiti mural arts program can be the usual contenders of: miscellaneous art grants, block grants, non-profit agencies, or one or more philanthropic patrons.
The offering of a mural graffiti arts program may be nothing new in many inner city public school districts. However I hope at least my format for one is as unique until proven otherwise in aiding school children. To appreciate art as an ascetically pleasing form of self-expression and collective upliftment for a community at large.
Thank you for your participation as a reader and/or practitioner in achieving arts enrichment one youth at a time.