Two beautiful murals have appeared in the entryway of Bache Martin Elementary School. Upon entering the school it is a marvel to see the masterpieces tall and glimmering before you, almost as if they were brought there by some kind of magic. Who would have known that those kids had all that power saved up in them, to create not one but two murals hung shining on their school walls for years to come? We call it magic because something very special happens when you give kids the space and tools to be their creative selves. Built on the energy of a 2012 Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) grant, in 2013 we were awarded a Long-Term Residency (LTR) grant from the Pennsylvania Council in the Arts. The funding ignited each piece of the puzzle, from the grant writing process to approaching Kristin Leubert and Joe Brenman. We were able to create a way for the kids to succeed; and succeed they did. Exploring the growth of a garden as a metaphor for their own journey into adulthood, their hands crafted the playful animals seen scampering under the trees. Their young minds imagined the poetry—lines of inspiration scrawled on the roots and feeding the tree. This Art of Growing Up mural did everything it set out to do. Encrusted in each tile and line of grout is a sliver of their stories and dreams of who they want to be when they grow up. Their youthfulness is the magic of this mural. Look what we have done together.
It all started with Joe Brenman, who when given the opportunity to work with Kristin Leubert and her 7th and 8th grade classes decided that he wanted give the students an opportunity to create the entire mural themselves. Joe is a prolific artist whose artwork has been featured all over Philadelphia. (Check out his website to see just how awesome he is!) and Joe has one of the biggest hearts we at ArtWell have come across. Setting himself up as a guide, he led the students through the yearlong project. Joe’s gift to these lucky youth was the chance to plan, sculpt and erect the mosaic murals that you see here. Aided by retired school administrator Carol Spann-Tyson, he even let them cut the tiles and draw on the walls. This is just one of the many ways that ArtWell is committed to inspiring hope through art and invigorating the learning experience for Philadelphia’s youth. To see the entire project unfold and read the step by step process these amazing young people followed, just Click Here. The truth is that there’s always more magic in all of us and in all of our kids and it’s just waiting to be invited out.
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