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Almost 2 years ago, 3 students came to me with an idea.  The idea was this: our brand new school building was in need of character, something to decorate the walls and make the building more interesting.  They wanted to paint a mural.  My first instinct was to reply with enthusiasm, and then to wait and see where the idea went, so I said, "Great! How can I help?" and listened to the students as they laid their plan out for me.  It was an interesting idea I must admit, but I wasn't entirely convinced they would follow through.  So I sent the students off with a list of tasks that were necessary for such a large pursuit:  
1. They would need a written proposal, explaining why they thought it was important for the school to have a mural, which they would then need to present to the principal.  
2. They also would need a design plan of how they thought the mural should look, and what theme they thought would be appropriate for our school's mural. 3. And finally, they would need a list of materials that they would need to put this mural together as well as a plan for procuring the materials as murals require a lot of "stuff" to make.  
I sent them on their way expecting not to hear from them again and as time passed the mural proposition drifted to the back of my mind.  

Time passed, and on occasion, the leader of this idea would stop by and chat, asking small questions that could have been related to any art assignment, I thought nothing of it.  Then one day they came to me again, and instead of 3 students there were four.  The leader, the supporter, the writer, and now an artist.  They presented a thorough plan to me.  Included was a well written letter that diagrammed the plan, a drawing of what they thought the mural should look like, suggestions for a location, a list of materials including all the colors of paints they would need, brushes, and where they would get them, and most importantly hopeful and excited dispositions.  It was more than I ever expected, I thought, "Wow, I guess I need to take these kids seriously," my one concern being, if we were going to do this, we better do it right, (time to bring in the experts!).  I immediately went to my school principal and discussed the possibility of actually creating a large mural.   

I did a little research and decided to contact David Fichter, a local mural artist that I had worked with at the King Open school in Cambridge, MA when I was getting my masters degree.  If you have a moment, check out his web page, http://davidfichter.net; his work, his way with people, his disposition, everything about him is wonderful to work with . He and I began discussing how to begin such a large project.  

First, Money.  I had never applied for grants before, I didn't even know where to begin.  David, as I had done with my students, sent me off with a list of tasks, and I went to work searching and organizing, writing short essays and planning my attack.  I was overwhelmed, so my principal enlisted another staff member in our building, Marc Malfitano, to write a grant application of my choosing, I just needed to find one that would suit our project.  David directed us to the Local Cultural Council grants, and Marc started to put the application together.  We would need more money than one grant would cover, so I kept searching, and applied to a couple others on the side, then David and I worked together to apply to a newly organized artist residency program through the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  We submitted everything, and then waited, (oh the wait was torture!) In January we received notice from both grants, we had $10,000 to make this project happen.  David would begin in February. 

What we accomplished with that money was more than I ever imagined.  We took our students' dream, and we made it a reality.  Check out the images from process to completion.  

Student Drawings for the Mural

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The preliminary design plan by David Fichter

Some of the painting process:

The Unveiling


Links to more on the Rumney Marsh Mural

 

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