I first got wind of an “urban art wall” from my youngest over at MHS. What? Monrovia High School has a school sanctioned mural done by urban artists? I made a few calls based on his information and boy I like what I see.
Vice-principal Darvon Jackson said the idea for the wall was inspired by a trip to Paris, and Rome this summer. Graffiti and murals all over, it wasn’t an LA thing but a global art form on the rise. When he returned he got Jose Marin one of the security staff at MHS to talk with some of the kids and see if there was an interest to start a club with their students.
There was. The students jumped at the chance to do their art without the fear of prosecution or claims of vandalism. In a matter of weeks they had 70 members sign up with 35-40 who are very active and attend the weekly meetings.
Follow the jump for more of their history and pics of their work.
To get to the start of the club and put up a mural the students needed to convince school Administration and get School Board approval. To get that the kids had to research the history of art and put together a presentation outlining the historical evidence of art, graffiti and what they wanted to do. Then they had to present it to administration. How about that…researching, paper writing and presentations nice way to sneak in a learning tool.
Dr. Louise Taylor the MUSD Superintendent was enthusiastic and supportive quickly giving them her support. These kids had a plan put together that would cost the school little to get started. (A small editorial note, Dr. Taylor rocks, she is innovative and encourages the schools to find new ways to get our kids to learn and the results show).
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I met with Jose Marin who let me know that once formed the group has been pretty motivated to show what they can do. The students chose “RJ” Leal as their leader and soon had several drawings for the wall to submit to Administration for consideration. The guidelines were simple, follow school policy regarding profanity etc., and they got their mural approved.
According to Jose this club is about pride and responsibility. Anyone can join but the best part is that this drew from a whole new crowd of students not the usual “A students” but students who haven’t typically been joining clubs.
Their rules to stay in are easy. Attend the meetings. No tagging anywhere in town or on campus. If you do the crime not only do you have to deal with the civic punishments you will be expelled from the club. The end result according to Marin is that tagging is down significantly on campus and very little time is spent on clean up now.
Supplies came from fundraisers and materials donated by the local Home Depot.
The mural went up on the back side of the student store. So far it remains in good condition and the club intends to keep it that way.
The produced all of their own stencils.
Individuals worked on distinct elements yet kept it a cohesive total piece.
Of course no piece is complete until you sign and date it.
So where will this expand? Jose Marin isn’t sure. Mr Jackson certainly expressed the desire to keep it going as it is doing so much good for a group of students. I asked Jose if the next step is to expand to the middle schools as that is where a lot of them get started. His response, I’d like that, I envision a lot more from these kids to give them some positive experiences at school but right now our focus is in keeping these kids active and learning here at MHS.
I like this club, a lot. Kids not in the mainstream joiners given a chance to be caught doing something right.
This club could use a hand keeping itself up and running. Their only cost is supplies but that can get expensive if they want to do the murals they know they are capable of. If you have the resources or know of a business that could help them out contact Mr. Jackson or Mr. Marin at 626-471-2800.
The next mural is being planned and scheduled to go up 2/20/08. I begged to be there to watch and observe and they agreed. I have seen so many nicely done murals over the years and have been amazed the work they can do with a spray can. I can’t wait to see them work.
Pics by me. Some get bigger, some don’t it’s your task to click and find which do get bigger. The lead photo for you techno geeks like me was a bracketed photo processed with Photomatix HDR file generation then tone mapped. The final image was given the final post process with “virtual photographer” and then shrunk to fit here.