A new mural honoring the hopes for a post-pandemic life will soon find a home in Redwood City through the work of more than 100 fourth grade students and a local arts education nonprofit.
“Promoting the arts and giving the students a chance to develop their skills in a different way is really important,” said Warren Sedar, principal of Adelante-Selby Spanish Immersion School.
Developed by the Redwood City nonprofit Art in Action, in partnership with Adelante-Selby’s fourth-grade class, the mural will transform a roughly 304-square-foot wall at 751 Bradford St. into a message of hope.
The piece will feature shadow outlines of more than a dozen school-age children as they look on at the setting sun. Painted in the hands of the children will be colorful balloons and kites as they stand in a field of poppies, California’s state flower. Towering in the corner will be a Redwood tree, honoring the city.
Yesenia Bravo, a fourth-grade teacher at Adelante-Selby and lead on the project said students were first introduced to the subject through an art lesson inspired by Diego Rivera, a famous Mexican muralist.
While virtually learning about the artist and the art form, students were encouraged to consider how they would depict their own hopes and dreams for Redwood City. Some drew pictures of their favorite ice cream shop and others prominently featured the city’s welcome sign, said the teacher, sharing appreciation for parent support with bundling the necessary art supplies for each student.
“They were really supportive of each other’s art,” said Bravo, sharing strong pride in her students.
Kaleo Waxman, Art in Action’s director of development, also shared pride for the students. Doing the work online was difficult, said Waxman, but many showed patience when trying to express themselves and their vision.
Students met with local muralist Lisa Miller on multiple occasions to brainstorm the final creation. Bravo said she and the Art in Action team met a total of eight times to help bring the project to life.
The school and organization have worked together in the past but never at such a large scale, said Bravo, an artist herself. But when the organization approached the school about the project, she said she was excited to join the effort.
Remote learning had weighed heavy on the kids who felt depressed and isolated, said Bravo, and the project allowed the students to create something hands-on together. With the vision complete, the students will now have the chance to paint the piece themselves as well.
“It brought them a sense of community. They were excited that even in different households they were working together to get this done,” said Bravo. “It really gave them a sense of school community, neighborhood community.”
From June 10 to 13, groups of up to 12 students will take turns filling in parts of the mural after the wall has been primed and the main pieces chalked on. Waxman said the organization is interested in gathering a group of volunteers to help complete some of the prework and for donations of water, snacks, coffee and other items for the children when they paint.
Art in Action is also searching for financial donations and corporate sponsors, said Waxman. The Redwood City Arts Commission has supported the project with a $4,300 grant and is set to give final approval to the project in May.
“I think it’s going to be wonderful and I really think it’s what the kids need,” said Waxman. “They’re putting their stamp on the community and putting their voices in artwork.”
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