Monday, August 11, 2014

bauer mural: 'together'

zach medler mural

since the first of june, i've been meeting with kids in Bauer Community Center's summer program.  i met with 3rd and 4th graders on mondays and 5th and 6th graders and a group of teenagers on tuesdays.  we discussed what to do with the mural, and i wanted each kid to be able to have the opportunity to draw whatever they wanted on the wall.  we had cartoons and dancers and made up things.  we had a lot of chicago bulls images and other chicago-themed ideas.  through the weeks i discovered that about 80% of the kids in the program were originally from chicago.  so i let them run with it.

they were a tough group to work with, and learning to compromise and work together was a challenge that they all had to come up against.  in the end, sharing wall space and learning to accept the ideas of others was a great learning experience for these kids.  i hope they'll take this with them into other areas of their lives and when issues arise, they seek thoughtful solutions, rather than simply dismissing someone else's ideas or opinions that differ from their own.

it was a great experience for me as well.  i learned that making kids who are resistant participate is not always the solution.  sometimes there are real fears and hidden issues behind their anger and resistance.  and rather than forcing, it's more important to discover a solution that can work with each kid.  they're all different.  they all respond and learn different.  it's hard to teach them each individually when there's 30 of them and most are defensive, but it's what must be done to get them to reason out that trust is a two-way street.

the mural is a great accomplishment for Bauer.  it provides a lot of life for what was once a monotone concrete block building.  there's a lot of life in that building, and now the outside reflects that.  the kids that i painted for the upper sections are all loosely based off of specific kids in the class.  i tried to capture the reluctance of some and the inhibition of others in approaching the wall.  mostly i wanted to depict different attitudes of working together and ideas of mine, yours, and ours.  i hope that comes through with the spirit of collaboration that is intrinsically built into this many kids depicted painting in the same space.

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