A colorful, new six-by-seven-foot mural painted by local elementary school students now brightens a third floor wall of the College of Education’s Aderhold Hall, thanks to a collaborative effort led by a group of University of Georgia art education students.
The mural which is titled, “Shaping our World,” depicts the relationships between humans, animals and the environment. It was recently installed between the college’s Reading and School Psychology clinics. Now, as children and their families and caregivers attend the clinics, they will be welcomed by the art of local youth.
The project was directed by Lauren Kucera, an adjunct instructor and James Woglom, a doctoral student in art education who were both teaching UGA classes spring semester that featured a month-long practicum experience with students in the Gaines Elementary AfterSchool Program.
The UGA students plan four-week, age-appropriate units connected to the central theme(s). These units feature children’s books, and include reading, writing and art-making in small groups. Reading the books together inspires conversation about environments, large and small, and the relationships between humans and other creatures, real and imaginary, in those environments.
“The children create their own worlds and inhabitants, learning media and techniques to use for the mural panels,” said Woglom. “Each mural panel is unique, reflecting the media and technique utilized, as well as the individual artist’s hand and view of his or her world. Combined, the panels create a large globe of diverse blue and green tones, textures, and gestures, from elementary and college students working together.”
“The spirit of the mural and the project’s integration of literacy, the environment and the arts, represents the teaching, research and outreach of the 3rd floor of Aderhold,” said JoBeth Allen, a professor of language and literacy education whose initial idea led to this project. “Our scholarship focuses on language, literacy, culture, and individuals’ cognitive and emotional well-being, so we welcome this mural.”
The project was actually the culmination of a proposal Allen made to the dean last summer about creating “Halls of Learning” in the college featuring faculty and student work for a more engaging, attractive educational environment.
But the idea was really set into motion by Winnie Smith, a former administrative assistant in the dean’s office and now an administrative manager with the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science. Smith (BFA ’00), currently a master’s student in art education, talked with Allen about a mural like the one outside the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development. She contacted her art education professors Tracy Costantino and Richard Siegesmund who suggested the project for the UGA class who were working with Gaines Elementary School.