As part of their school-beautification project this year, Shorewood Intermediate School advanced art students produced three murals that were installed on the north wall of the school Friday morning.
"The students wanted to put color on a space that is a drab brick wall," said Shorewood Dean of Students Bill Haury.
Since 2002, the school's advanced art class works on a school-beautification project each year, but this is the first year it was placed outside its middle school's walls, Haury said.
"The intent was to take a school that looked very institutional and transform it to be a living, breathing expression of which the people are that go through the doors," said Ann Bauer de Ruiz, the Shorewood Intermediate School art teacher that oversaw the advanced art class.
Bauer de Ruiz added, this year the advanced art students voted on creating a mural that would be placed somewhere outside of our school, "to let the public know who we really are."
Following lengthy conversations over what kind of an image they would create, the biggest debate occurred around the idea of creating a piece of art that is beautiful to look at versus one that has a message. In the end, the students felt it was equally important if not more important that they say something to the public; send them a strong message, Bauer de Ruiz said.
Conjured up by students Morgan Florsheim and Marie Matthias, they decided to create art that would show a human's weakness of waiting until a problem or an issue is so out of control before anyone decides to do something about it, and even then sometimes it is too late. As well as showing the simple act it would take to change the course.
The mural consists of three sections. The first is of a young girl hovering in the corner, in obvious need of help. In the background is a group of people standing around, ignoring the girl, with labels of poor attributes. One of the characters has a label of afraid. The second section is a close-up of the girl's face. Her face is starting to crack — a symbol of her breaking apart. The third panel includes the same characters in the background, but one is breaking apart from the rest of the group; she is the one labeled afraid. But as she suppresses that fear she becomes courageous and reaches out to help the young girl, who begins to heal.
Courageous, one major trait of what it takes to be a person of character, Bauer de Ruiz said, the students feel very proud of their work and the message that they are trying to instill in the viewer.
"I am proud that they took on the challenge of not only creating a mural that would be seen by the general public, but to have the courage to send a powerful message as well," she said. "Art is a wonderful thing, it often insists that you contemplate it before you fully get to its heart."