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South Valley Journal

Graffiti Art Lines the Walls with Color at South Hills Middle School

Jan 27, 2016 09:01AM ● By Aimee L Cook

By Aimee L. Cook | [email protected]

South Valley - What better way to advertise your art program than to decorate your walls with art? Such was the suggestion of art teacher Larry Moore. He and fellow art teacher Gregory Nichols decided to do just that and painted a few things on the walls. They had so much fun doing it, they both decided it would be a great project for the students who are in painting class. 

“Students do not have to paint exactly what they’re learning in their other classes,” Nichols said. “In fact, we had a couple of days at the library where they research what they’re learning in other classes. This way, the students extend their knowledge of a particular subject. My favorite example is my 4th period science group. They were studying the atom at the time, and after doing some research, the group learned a great deal about the atomic chain reaction that causes the nuclear bombs and the Higgs-Boson particle that holds the universe together. After their research, the groups split into pairs and drew a mock up of the mural they envisioned. They then pitched it to the group, who then decided what was good, what would stick, and how to combine them. They then had to pitch the proposal to “board.” The board was just me, but I explained how mural designs are typically approved.”

Once their murals were approved, the students, working in groups of 8-12, drew them on with chalk first, and then painted them over the course of 10 days. The goal was to help students understand and demonstrate depth, space, color theory and blending. In addition, Nichols feels that having students paint subject matters that correlate to what they are leaning in school creates “cross-curricular bridges.”

“I spoke with the groups about how the most important thing they’d learn from this activity would probably not be color or space, but rather how to talk to each other, voice concerns fairly and forgive pettiness,” Nichols said.

Students learned a great deal more than painting. The school’s halls are dressed in color and student art, and the atmosphere created by being creative is one of positivity. The new graffiti art program is a success.

“I love the fact that our art students have the opportunity to showcase their incredible talents in a unique way, so that the entire school can enjoy them and celebrate their works of art,” Ben Jameson, principal, said.  “I am grateful for the amazing teachers at South Hills, like Mr. Nichols, who think outside of the box to create meaningful, fun and authentic educational experiences for their students.”