October 31, 2022 -- 519 Trevitt Street. One building, two schools, endless collaboration.
That’s something students at both Beatty Park and Trevitt Elementary Schools are working to perfect with the help of two artists.
Beatty Park art teacher Maggie Boggess wanted to help her students understand how to express themselves with confidence and how to work well with others. She was at her child’s school when the idea of creating a mural where she teaches came to her.
“Stephanie has a mural in my kids’ elementary school and I had seen her work around Columbus,” Boggess said of Columbus City Schools graduate and visual artist Stephanie Rond.
That’s when Boggess asked Rond to create a mural for the two elementary schools housed in the same building. Together they asked spoken word artist Cynthia Amoah to join them. The three began working with kids in the classroom so everyone could contribute ideas for the mural.
The project took off in October with Amoah at the front of the classroom helping students brainstorm ways of describing and expressing themselves.
“Sometimes I step into spaces and say, ‘Hi, I’m a poet and I’m going to teach you some poetry,’ and they’ll be like, ‘What! We don’t want to learn about poetry,’ but then by the end of our time together they’ll change their minds about writing and about words or reading,” Amoah said.
“Strong,” “beautiful,” and “helpful” are a handful of words students wrote inside multi-colored thought bubbles the artists created to help students with their ideas. Once those ideas were on paper, Rond showed them how those words can be transferred into a piece of artwork.
The students’ ideas and self-expressions will be displayed in the mural Rond and Amoah create for the building. While they hope students embrace the final artwork, which will sit at the front of their school, the artists hope they’ll take away more than a beautiful picture.
“It’s been really important for them to see how Cynthia and I work together. We've been talking a lot about how pictures and words are the same type of literacy and how they go together. We wanted to make sure that we were creating a piece of artwork that had each individual voice but as a larger piece shows the voice of the larger community and how beautiful all of these communities are together. Both schools the teachers the volunteers all of the students,” Rond said.
The mural will feature students from both buildings and is expected to be completed before spring.