This year we are adding to the mural we started last year at MUJC developmental learning center. Having this 2 year grant makes a huge difference in a school like this. Special needs kids often take a long time to get used to a new person and our routine. Those that were involved last year know me and the materials. They come in knowing what is expected of them. This year we have some verbal students. One in particular Jasim, had a lot of great ideas for our addition. He talked about adding people to each side and I had him draw some on paper. The next week I asked him if he could draw them on the wall with chalk and put one person on a bike. He was thrilled to try this and without any hesitation started drawing. He also nailed the scale. This was not only great for him. The rest of the school started asking questions and learned more about the design process. Since the students aren’t allowed to use knives I will turn his drawing into a 3d form to mosaic. I enjoy seeing how these things evolve from drawing to foam form and then again as it gets mosaic on the surface. I’m thrilled to have a young designer this year too
The building has to go because the big idea is to create a garden space. This school has a space they call Main Street. It has a Shoprite that students work in,a paint store, a bank and other shops. The mural is supposed to be the green space on Main Street. Change is a big part of the creative process and Jasim is taking it in stride. I’ll ask him how he feels about maybe a person watering flowers!
I am finished for this school year and it has been so interesting and only occasionally frustrating. This is a great school with engaged staff and administration. My glitches were the business office ordering materials and getting the building folks to play nice with art and women. It all worked out and we had our grant extended into next year. This is so important for this type of learners to have at least 2 years. This is a developmental learning school and what I might take for granted takes more time. On the last day students finally looked at me directly and related verbally. Jayde learned my name instead of saying “excuse me” all the time. On the last day we got students to draw things for the next part of the mural. I think autistic kids and most of us need to see something concrete not abstract to understand. I have been blessed with being able to see the big picture and help others do the steps to create something. I’m kind of an art general contractor. Most aren’t like me that way I’m finally realizing. Hopefully this realization will make me a better teacher.
What we have so far. This is 16 ft by 8 ft high and the lighting makes it so hard to photograph. It is a curved wall so that is why I went with an appliqué approach. The high relief bits are attached with construction adhesive and temporary screws. It was decided that I could install. This gave me the opportunity to have students set tiles directly on the wall and one of the most rewarding parts of the process. We now have 16 additional feet to work with. I’m delighted students now get it and are excited about designing more. I can’t wait to see how things develop next year.
Our high relief dog. A student made a drawing of a teacher’s dog that we used. We have an F-16(I think that’s the right plane) that another student drew.
A kids Sponge Bob
Some handmade clay bits with our background of blue glass tiles. I had them set handmade tile and glass tile on small pieces of mesh. This was a great way to have kids apply tile to the wall. I always want to know what clay and glazes were used so for us it was some kind of low fire white that I found in the art room and rehydrated. We used Amaco velvet underglazes my go to glaze for inside and outside and a low fire gloss glaze. I had most of the kids use cookie cutters to make tiles but some made more unique tiles. John made his name and large! We spread the letters out throughout the mural.
Today we laid it all out on the floor and it looks amazing so far. I’m finding that mosaic and making small clay parts with cookie cutters and handmade parts when possible is ideal for this community of learners. Paper mache also. I think these kids benefit greatly from hands on tactile repetitive experiences. These are techniques that work with all levels of ability to create a fabulous whole. Today Dasante came running into the art room with a big smile on his face. We all need more art then we get normally. It touches us in places that can’t be measured. It touches these children in ways we should be paying more attention too.Dasante’s butterfly
I’m happy that I got the proportions right!