Oak Tree Mural at Ukiah High School. Photo by: Curtis Driscoll.
Article by Curtis Driscoll, firstname.lastname@example.org
Students in Eveline Rodriguez’s French Two class unveiled their oak tree mural on the wall of the UHS library on Wednesday, capping off three months of work by 26 students. Artists Alexa Baldwin and Judy Geer helped paint the mural, and they along with the students explored painting styles and decided on painting a Valley Oak tree in the five art styles of cubism, surrealism, romanticism, impressionism, and pointillism. The artists divided the mural into five sections, with each part representing one of the five painting styles.
Impressionism captures the momentary, sensory effect of a scene, while cubism emphasizes formal and geometrical structure. Pointillism uses small, distinct dots of color applied to patterns to form an image, and romanticism focuses on showing highlighting feelings and moods. Surrealism art produces odd combinations or juxtapositions designed to make the viewer think.
The class also studied the oak trees in the forest, and they eventually used them in the painting. Kate Marionchild’s book, Secrets of the Oak Woodlands, was the leading resource used for the mural. Marionchild came to the classroom and taught the students about the ecology of the Valley Oaks and nature in the Ukiah area.
During the ceremony, the students talked in both French and English about the five different styles used in the mural and explained the different animals that were part of the painting, such as caterpillars, butterflies, snails, and woodpeckers, along with the importance of the animals to nature.
The Mendocino Arts Council funded the mural as part of the “Get Arts in the Schools Program.” The program started in 2005 and tries to bring art projects into different classes throughout all education levels. Alyssum Wier, the Executive Director of the Mendocino Arts Council, says that having students be part of the program deepens their learning and allows kids to spend time with a professional artist to help them incorporate some of their lessons into art.
“It’s not meant to take the place of the regular art classroom teacher, this is really about enrichment, so it’s a special experience for the students to be able to work with the professional artists from the community,” Wier said.
Different projects and classes incorporate various aspects of curriculum into the art. The Oak Tree Mural drew upon art historical eras from France, along with some of the local history in Mendocino County. Weir says they send artists into all classrooms if there is a teacher in the community that is eager to use the arts as an enrichment activity or if an artist wants to collaborate with a teacher. Any artist or teacher interested in participating in the program can learn more at artsmendocino.org.