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A fresh coat of paint: a year in Mural Club

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A fresh coat of paint: a year in Mural Club

Mural Club works on the mural in Mr. Bendelow’s room.

Mural Club works on the mural in Mr. Bendelow’s room.

Photo by Molly Braun

Mural Club works on the mural in Mr. Bendelow’s room.

Photo by Molly Braun

Photo by Molly Braun

Mural Club works on the mural in Mr. Bendelow’s room.

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What starts as a blank wall at York turns quickly into one that is covered with pencil marks, then covered with blots of paint, and then finally covered with a clean finished design.

This work is done by none other than Mural Club. Led by ceramics teacher Ms. Kuharchuk, students brainstorm, sketch, and paint the murals around York while wearing their signature black Bob Ross shirts. Even though they’re not painting happy little trees this year, Mural Club worked on three murals, putting their first strokes on the school with a mural in Mr. Bendelow’s room.

“Mr. Bendelow approached me and said he was interested in having a mural in his room,” Ms. Kuharchuk said, “because his room was not as lively, and he wanted something that would be a little more interesting.”

Mr. Bendelow asked for this quote for his mural: “In this room, America’s next great artists, architects, athletes, engineers, physicians, scientists, communicators, technicians, mathematicians, philosophers, creators, teachers, and leaders are being built.” Mural Club members worked in groups to design the imagery for each word and then brought each design together to create the full mural.

“I like the way each member of the club got a noun and used visual metaphors – symbols – to convey the noun’s meaning,” Mr. Bendelow said. “For instance, ‘mathematicians’ is composed of lettering that comes from math equations, and the letters in ‘scientists’ have lab equipment. They made it much more creative than what I imagined.”

Photo by Molly Braun
Junior Amy Roberts works on the creator part of the quote in Mr. Bendelow’s room.

While creativity ruled the mural, Mr. Bendelow’s mural aimed to remind students and staff of what the purpose of York actually is: “building the future of our country by developing the people who will lead it.”

“Sometimes in school, people can get so fixated on the details like this assignment or that test,” Mr. Bendelow said, “that they miss the larger purpose of our effort – to make sure young people are realizing their potentials.”

After finishing up the mural for Mr. Bendelow’s room, students who are both in Mural Club and Kind Club started working on a mural for Kind Club on the second floor by the South Atrium that was way more than a happy little accident.

“My favorite mural I painted this year was the Kind Club mural,” senior Anna Frantzis said, “because all of the members of Kind Club that were in Mural Club painted it together, and we had been planning it for a year. Not only was this mural supposed to look pretty, but it also had meaning behind it.”

Photo by Molly Braun
Mural Club members work on a mural that promoted love.

The mural’s meaning has the same meaning of Kind Club: focusing on kindness and acceptance at York. They used the word love in different languages to showcase this idea of spreading love and kindness.

“The center is the logo for Kind Club, the sign language symbol for ‘I love you,’” Ms. Kuharchuk said. “We had this initial logo, and then we looked at putting in other colors and shapes. We traced it on the wall and then painted it.”

While some members were working on the Kind Club mural, the rest of the club started their planning for a mural in the science department office. The science teachers thought the office appeared empty, and that it needed a mural in the space.

The science department took the idea to Ms. Kuharchuk who then took it to the students in Mural Club who started by asking questions about what they should do for this mural.

“We asked ‘what can we do?’” Ms. Kuharchuk said. “‘What are some examples we could look at? What are the sciences that York teaches? What’s the imagery that we should include to really show and represent the different sciences?’”

With these questions in mind, they started their brainstorming and sketching days. They took all the different designs and combined them into one mural that showcased the science department.

“A lot of us were able to take part in the science department’s design,” sophomore Autumn English said, “and it’s nice to see everyone’s ideas rolled up into one big project. It’s impossible for one person to take all the credit for this mural or any mural. After all, completing a mural is always a big project.”

Photo by Molly Braun
Painting doesn’t come without making a mess. Sophomore Autumn English cleans paint after working on the mural in Mr. Bendelow’s room.

A major component of creating a mural is figuring out where the mural should go. Mural Club struggled to find the best place for this mural.

“In putting up a mural, you sometimes have to finagle it to work with the space,” Ms. Kuharchuk said. “We had to problem solve some things, but we ended up putting it opposite of the door, right when you walk into the office.

After figuring out where the mural would be painted, students transferred the final sketch for the mural onto the wall which will be finished up with painting next school year. The other planned mural is a little closer to Mural Club: a mural in the Raku firing courtyard outside of the ceramics room which members will be able to see every time they meet.  

“It’s all these gray cinder blocks right now, and it’s really not that exciting,” Ms. Kuharchuk said.Looking into next year, Mural Club will be deciding on the design. Since it’s outside, we have to plan around the weather so we’ll probably start right away when we come back.”

While it would be the first time Mural Club paints an outdoor mural, most Mural Club members will agree that all the murals aren’t even the best part.

“For me, the greatest part about Mural Club is being able to meet with and talk to friends I don’t see very often during the day,” English said. “We all have an interest in painting and art, so it’s nice to have a conversation with each other while doing the things we are passionate about.

Anna Frantzis agrees with English, but she also thinks it’s cool how the murals will be here long after she graduates this year.

“To see something you drew painted on a wall has permanence, and it really has a lot of meaning to know my art is on this wall,” Frantzis said. “I get to make a mark on the school and be a part of something that many incoming classes of students will see and hopefully be inspired by.”

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About the Writer
Molly Braun, Reporter

As a freshman, this is Molly Braun’s first year on staff. Along with newspaper, she is involved in Mural Club and Science Olympiad. In her almost non-existent...

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A fresh coat of paint: a year in Mural Club