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Valley Journals

Hillcrest High artists paint murals in room to make it their own

Mar 07, 2018 11:51AM ● By Julie Slama

As part of a class assignments, Hillcrest High School art students paint murals in their classroom. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

When stepping into Michael Brzozowski’s Hillcrest High art classroom, newcomers may stop mid-step and say, “Wow!”

 “I get that reaction a lot,” Brzozowski said. “I really like public art murals so this was a fun thing for my students to do. It gives them a way to be part of class and to transform this room how they want it.”

Last fall, Brzozowski gave the go-ahead to his arts foundation students working together in small groups to create murals based on the prompt of freedom and their identity. The results ranged from bright colors around an eye to a piano to a honeybee.

“The groups had to come together on their designs and each person had a part of it. Then, we had to figure out how to make them work together and scale them on grids before we let them work on the walls. They started with chalk, worked on blending and then filled in the shapes with tempura paint,” he said.

Brzozowski had students write poems and critiques about what their art sketches meant.

“Some were really powerful,” he said.

In one student’s submission, he wrote about a sun in his mural.

“Will the sunshine come after the rain? So let the colors scream emotion. Let us stop time as the roses grow strong beneath us, as the unknown quickly falls upon this wonderful journey of life.”

Another student explained why he included an alien in his group’s mural.

“I have always been interested, wondered if there is another type of life form out in space….With this idea, I was able to expand and have my artwork with a bunch of ideas such as roses, skulls and the alien, wearing a hoodie,” he said. 

He also wrote, “Art is about being able to express yourself the way you feel. There is no right or wrong way with whatever type of art you may be up to, as long as you are being yourself.” 

Freshman Catherine Ramirez said that her group focused on one member’s picture as their symbol for freedom.

“At first, it was a disaster, we were arguing over everything – colors, techniques, anything,” she said. “Then, we told Mr. B we didn’t know what to do and he had us start with the sun, then we talked it out and included other aspects of Utah, like the bee. Making the decisions was the hardest part. Except for it being crowded while painting, the painting was the easiest. It was kind of cool doing it.”

Brzozowski said that the collaboration project was new for many of the students.

“Once they learned how to work together, they got excited about what they could create,” he said. “Art on its own can be intimidating, intriguing and curious. We’ve had other classes come to see what they did and they want to take art foundations as well so they can create this kind of art.”

The arts foundation class is a basic course that can be used toward the high school art requirements, he said.

Brzozowski said he already has approached Principal Greg Leavitt about his spring term students painting the exterior of the school or maybe some outside storage containers.

Leavitt isn’t opposed to the idea.

“We just have to look at it and see where it can be done,” he said.

Brzozowski said that several students are inspired by it.

“It’s meant to inspire,” he said. “It can change people’s feelings when students come into the room. They say, ‘I want to do this.’”