Athens County Students And Teachers Team Up To Create Community Mural< < Back to
ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — From rolling hills, to pawpaws, to bricks, to “ditch lilies,” there are a lot of symbols that students think of when they think of Athens County.
These ideas, and the communities they represent, will be intertwined in a mural created by local students and teachers. Students’ ideas about their communities are at the heart of the project, consisting of eight panels they painted that were then attached to aluminum sheets by their teachers.
Different panels represent different schools, but the word “community” stretches across each of them, connecting each of the individual pieces together.
The mural will be located on the outside of the Athens Community Center’s service garage facing East State Street.
“We asked our students what Athens County and what their communities made them think of, so we kind of brainstormed all these different types of things like pawpaws and the bike path,” Cali Sanker, who teaches art at Trimble Junior High School, said. “We put together a list of these different kinds of symbols throughout Athens County and each individual community to put together a drawing. The drawing then featured all of the student input.”
Art teachers at five school districts, including the Athens, Nelsonville-York, Alexander, Federal Hocking, and Trimble, gathered together over Zoom beginning in January to organize the mural, working around challenges with online learning and snow days to get their student’s input.
Students had a range of symbols they felt represented their regions of the county, however, there was a lot of overlap when it came to nature, bringing together a very cohesive mural at the end of the project, Sanker said.
Sam Campbell, the art teacher at Nelsonville-York Middle school, created the final design from everything the county’s students said.
“Just taking all the student ideas from the different teachers and putting it on paper was a challenge, but everyone was so excited, and everyone wanted to work on this and everyone was willing to share ideas and help out,” Campbell said.
After Campbell completed the design, they sent the piece off to Mural Provisions, a business in Philadelphia focused on murals, that printed a faint outline large enough for the students to paint together.
Elizabeth Braun, the vice chair of the Athens Municipal Arts Commission, helped organize the project, and said the panels, though designed to fit well on the service garage wall, are easily moveable, because everyone involved wanted the mural to last longer than the existence of the service garage.
Working together across schools and teachers gave students the opportunity to see a real-world example of the methods some of them learned in class.
“That’s really what I expect my students to do all the time in class … to use their peers and to help each other out and build off of one another’s ideas,” Campbell said. “So, I was actually taking the things that I do every day in my classroom and using them myself.”
Braun said they hope for the mural to be put up by the end of the summer.
Although there are no definitive plans in place, Braun said that everyone involved in the project enjoyed it enough to do it again.
“The best thing was that all of these people, all these women, in this case, came together and met in a way that they’ve never been able to do before,” Braun said. “And it was this community mural project that brought them together. They learned from one another.”