The metaphor of tearing down walls does not apply here. In fact, Take it to the Wall is a mural project that hopes to stand the test of time.
As paint drips and takes shape on one of the five 4x8 aluminum panels that will make up the mural, Julia Lane can't help but beam with satisfaction. The final product is more than just an art project. Each brush stroke is the culmination of months of workshops with local high school students, engaging them in the process of art as well as taking ownership in their community.
"It's quite a privilege to be able to work on a piece of art in such a public forum," says Lane, a PhD student at Simon Fraser University, studying arts education. "It's wonderful to see students and the public coming to watch the process unfold."
Lane, along with other grad students from SFU and UBC, joined forces with the American Educational Research Association to get the community-driven project off the ground. The AERA has a long history of similar projects, most recently joining forces with Habitat For Humanity in their effort to rebuild homes in New Orleans.
Lane said while a number of ideas were initially floated around, the idea of leaving a lasting mark on the community struck a chord with everyone involved. The groups then solicited the Surrey school district's Surrey Appreciates ME, a program that involves secondary students mentoring elementary students in an effort to build self-esteem and respect for others. From there, Take it to the Wall was conceived.
With help from others like renowned B.C. mural artist Michelle Loughery, the project took shape in the SFU Surrey foyer last Thursday afternoon.
"It was great being included in the process from the start as it is exciting to me that organic community art has a place in formal education," said Loughery.
"I think community art engagement is key to the change we seek socially and educationally for our youth."
For Lane, who intends to spend a lifetime immersed in art, Take it to the Wall will have a lasting impression on the community.
"We wanted a project that would make more than just a one-day impact. We wanted something that would leave a legacy," notes Lane.
Lane said it was extremely rewarding to be able to pair with the secondary school students, hoping the workshops instilled a sense of ownership over the project and thus in their own community.
For Lord Tweedsmuir student S.Y. Lee, the chance to participate opened his eyes to his community, and himself.
"Having a piece of artwork that I contributed up in Surrey is actually really exciting and amazing, because I've never considered myself as an artist and it's kind of an honour for me."
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