Friends Middle School Participates in State College Multi Cultural Diversity Fair with newly-digitized mural.
With an eye for proportion and a knack for managing extraordinary photography and art, local photographer Michael Black and local artist William Snyder III worked for several months to disassemble, digitize, preserve, and reassemble a 6 foot by 17 foot student-created piece of art with a message. Saturday, September 28th, Head of School Donnan Stoicovy and several middle school students who worked on the mural will unveil it for its first public viewing.
With grant funding from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Friends Council On Education, along with independent funds raised by Middle School teacher Bailey Kellermann, the mural will be shared with other interested organizations or institutions around the country.
Leading up to the school's Martin Luther King Jr. Day recognition last January, Middle School Teacher Bailey Kellermann and 11 of her students came up with an idea to create a mural, depicting the civil rights leader’s Birmingham, Alabama, jail mugshot. What started out as a painting project on large bulletin board paper kept evolving as the students and Kellermann continued to talk.
The students decided to add graphic details representing information about the Black Lives Matter movement, lynchings and police killings in the United States — all topics which had been part of classroom conversations in social studies.
Titled Until All of Us Are Free, students shared the work of creating Dr. King’s portrait, researching the names of black individuals fatally shot by police in 2017, making 3,446 white paint thumbprints and 223 red thumbprints, representing the black individuals (reported) lynched in the United States since 1882 and the number of black people who were fatally shot by police in 2017.
When the large tempura paint and paper artwork was installed on the school lobby bulletin board, it immediately received attention from parents, students, and visitors to the school. The size alone resulted in curiosity. Students of all ages learned about the work in ways that were developmentally appropriate.
As attention grew around the content and creativity, so did interest from outside groups in having the piece on loan. That's where Michael Black and William Smith lll came into the conversation. The grant and independent fundraising made it possible to have the piece reproduced in its entirety and now it can be shared with others.
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