HWS students to paint mural

From left: SAAC Executive Director John Bateman, HWS art teacher April Wallace and
HWS VIVA PEAK gifted arts teacher Ryann Hawkins prep the easement on Lampkin
Street for a new mutual that will be done by Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary
students. (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)

Staff Writer

The city of Starkville will soon boast another mural along the Lampkin Street easement.

Approval has been given for the mural to be painted by students from Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary School. The mural will be based on the color wheel, and will be used as a teaching tool in future art classes. The project will be supported by Modern Woodmen of America. Every homeroom class at HWS will have the opportunity to contribute to the mural, either on Saturday or on Nov. 10. Second and third graders will come to the first session, and fourth graders will be sent to the second. More information will be sent to HWS parents this week. The project will be led by HWS art teacher April Wallace and HWS VIVA PEAK gifted arts teacher Ryann Hawkins.

“Last spring Modern Woodmen contacted me, because they were interested in sponsoring a mural that showed community engagement, particularly with youth,” said Starkville Area Arts Council Executive Director John Bateman. “About that time, one of the art teachers in the public school system contacted me, because she had been doing a lesson on public art, including murals and things of that nature.”

Bateman asked Wallace to send a proposal for a mural after their conversation

“Any child in second through fourth grade at Henderson Ward Stewart, if they come with their parent on one of two days, will be allowed to paint on this mural.”

Bateman said setting up the project took some work with the city, including setting it up on away football weekends and securing a street closure
for the days. First United Methodist Church will also allow families to use its parking lot during the painting days. Mugshots has also offered to provide lemonade and cookies to participants.

“This takes art out of the museum,” Bateman said. “We now have a mural that’s going up that is an actual teaching lesson in addition to being a public act of art.”

Bateman said research showed tangible improvements to areas following the addition of public art. These include increases in property values.

“That’s a long-term view, but I love the fact that we’ve got a teacher who came up with this great idea for her students, and parents are excited, and I’ve got people who ask me how they can help and participate,” Bateman said. “It’s truly a community project, where the city is giving their approval and their blessing.”

Wallace said the idea came to her when she saw local artist Joseph MacGown working on a mural along the easement during the same time she was teaching the public art unit in her class. She stopped to take some pictures to show her students.

“Some of the students were asking if they would ever be able to work on a mural, so I told them that their artwork may inspire a mural, so they did artwork for murals, and later I got up with Starkville Area Arts Council to see if it was a possibility, and it was,” Wallace said.

Wallace said the mural would be made up of corresponding geometric shapes. Cool colors will be on the left side and warm colors will be on the right. After its completion, Wallace will continue to use the mural as a teaching tool.

“These three graduating classes will always have that, and every class thereafter will have that as an example, seeing what students their age are capable of doing in their community,” Wallace said.