Thursday, 30 May 2013

How Painting a Mural as a Class Can Lift Students' Spirits

Now introducing guest blogger, Marcela De Vivo, from Los Angeles, writing on how painting a mural can lift students’ spirits. Art in Healthcare’s University Society recently completed a mural at Mannafields School, which has greatly brightened up their playground..

Mural at Mannafields School by Art in Healthcare University Society
It’s no secret that art can help independent young people find themselves, or even be used as a valuable means of healing and therapy. In fact, making art together can provide a group with a focused sense of meaning and pride.

For a classroom, such a powerful bonding experience can take things to the next level and crafting a large-scale mural is a perfect way to accomplish this. Here are a few impressive benefits of classroom mural-making that teachers should consider.

Image Courtesy of Franco Folini/

Creating Group Art Can Create a Group

Assign a classroom to individually paint or draw projects on their own; you’ll still have the same motley crew of young minds presenting varied islands of creativity. Assign that same collection of students to somehow produce a room-sized, coordinated color painting and the result will be an integrated organism of students with a shared sense of identity.

Making a work of art collectively is a powerful way for students to get to know each other in a profound manner. You can’t make a mural without voicing your ideas, showing your skills and—a necessary part in creating a group identity—exposing your vulnerabilities.

If a class-created mural strikes a chord among its artists, the set of individual minds that created it will have been at least slightly transformed. Leaders will have emerged. In the brainstorming, executing and administering phases of mural-making, students are likely to discover hidden strengths, allies and sense of purpose.

The Sum is Greater than its Parts

Beginning artists—or students who don’t even see themselves as artists—can be easily daunted in the creative process. Creating a work of art as part of a team can undo this insecurity in magical, unexpected ways.

First, while fledgling painters and sketchers feel nervous when presenting their ideas and feelings all alone, when their work is in conjunction with a community of classmates, it can take the heat of their individual performance. When even a clumsy-handed student can take a share in the pride of having created a massive wall painting, it’s an equally massive ego boost.

Image Courtesy of NID chick/Wikimedia Commons

Second, there truly is an element of alchemy to group creation. The voyage of discovery that happens when you let your ideas run free next to the visions of others is truly liberating—and among young people new to letting the creative juices flow, it might just be life-changing.

Murals Are the Change We Want to See.

Here’s a true anecdote that illustrates the positive power of murals. Several years ago, a Ford Motor Company plant in Detroit hired a muralist to redecorate the walls of one of its factories, giving free reign to the artist. Rather than impose his own vision, the painter asked each and every one of the plant’s line workers to tell him the images they wanted to look at every day. The artist captured a cornucopia of favorite singers, hot rods and beloved hunting dogs…resulting in the happiest, most productive set of workers the plant had seen in years.

Similarly, a group of students in Scotland found a sense of meaning by creating colorful murals for children in a school.

The point? Our lives tend to be a lot brighter when the backdrop is a colorful representation of our dreams, hopes and memories. This experience is all the more powerful when we are the ones physically responsible for creating that environment—and potentially even greater when we work together to transform the worlds of others into better places to live.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in Los Angeles who writes on everything from health and fitness to technology and marketing. In addition to writing for Northwest Pharmacy (, she loves inspiring creativity in others, especially her children, in order to encourage teamwork.

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