The project was not just to create a beautiful piece of art but also to build leadership skills in the students, ensure that students were central to decision-making, and that as many students as possible were included. Starting with conversation with the students, the project began to take shape based on the student’s interests and ideas. The students assisted in creating a proposal of content, and developing a mode of facilitation to go into each class and gather a piece of art from every student in the school. As well the students created materials lists and assisted in all the planning for the project.
The Art Club students learned to facilitate and gain input from other students, and learned about all the steps necessary for such a project: you can’t just go out and start painting – it actually takes a lot of planning and organizing to do such a project. Many students in the group were surprised at the amount of time that it took us to do all the necessary steps.
The students decided on a design in which the main focal point was a birch tree. The trunk of the tree includes black and white photos of student activiites which were applied by image transfer and created the texture of bark. Each leaf on the tree was made by a different student or teacher in the school and contains their name and anything they wanted to express. The mural also includes several birds that have the seven grandfather teachings on them as well as words that the students thought were important for a community to have such as unity and respect. The school intends to add more leaves to the tree for each new year of JK students, and when any new students move to the school.
The project is a beautiful art piece that includes an account of what is going on right now (similar to a time capsule) but can be appreciated by future students and community members alike for many years to come.