"lifting up the children of our community"

Over the past 11 weeks the mural class at Seattle University has been creating a mural for Bailey Gatzert Elementary School on 12th Ave and East Yesler Way. We have done a great many things to reach the final product. First we, as a class, decided that we needed to ask the students of Bailey Gatzert a couple of questions so that we may begin to understand what the students see on a daily basis in and around their neighborhood. So we went to some art classes at Bailey Gatzert and asked the students to draw their responses to the questions and in the end we collected more than a hundred images.

Soon after that each of us in the class started to draw out own version of the mural and then we talked amongst ourselves what we thought worked and what did not. After that process we started to create a larger mock mural after which we had three faculty members come and give us their opinions on what they liked and didn’t like. When the faculty members left the class thought about the suggestions and decided that there were some definite  changes that needed to be done. In the end those suggestions changed the mural and in the end helped to create a mural that we are all happy to have made.

After we had created a second mock mural the class was to do their own color study, meaning painting a small version of the mural, so that we could choose the colors in which to paint the large scale mural. Following the mural color study we chose the one that we thought would be most successful and made some slight changes to make the mural that you see down below.

I think one area that we had a hard time trying to figure out were the eight circular discs that are located throughout the mural. We all knew that we wanted to acknowledge the different cultures that are at Bailey Gatzert and so our first thought was to use motifs from each culture. Thinking that would be a good way to show each culture but it turns out that some of the motifs we chose were not accurate depictions of the culture. Then we tried changing the motifs but at a certain point we thought to use people to depict each culture. So we researched each culture and the people who have had a great impact on the people; we also decided that we wanted to use use local heroes to help instill pride in the neighborhood and school. In the end we not only used national and local heroes we also used heroes that are located in Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. Here is the list of people that we painted in the eight discs:  Chris Patrick, 2nd grade teacher; Principal Greg Imel; Barbara Dixon, Kindergarten teacher; Sheiko Nagawo, 4th grade teacher; Chief Seattle, founder of Seattle; Trung Sisters, Vietnamese Queens who protected Vietnam from China; Wing Luke, Chinese Activist; Roberto Maestros, Latino activist and founder of “El Centro de la Raza”.

To celebrate and share the mural we planned a BBQ at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School on June 20, 2011 where we invited the community to come and see the mural for the first time outside. Though small the BBQ was a great success and everyone enjoyed the mural.

“I would like to conclude with the final step of the mural process which is dependent on the acceptance and pride which the community takes in the mural, I hope that it will stand here for many years to come, to remind us that it takes curiosity to get to know one another and build bridges, the ambition to reach out and talk with your neighbor, the creativity to problem solve and find commonality, all of which are ways of reminding ourselves that we are community.” -Danila Rumold, Art professor at Seattle University.

Cathryn Hallett


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