Showing Unity Through Art
The new mural at East Ridge High School (ERHS) was envisioned, designed and created by ERHS visual arts students. The project began during the 2021-22 school year and was completed this past fall. More than 150 students were involved. Throughout the process students learned resiliency, collaboration and time management.
Jessica Frisco, Advanced Placement (AP) Art and Design teacher said the purpose of the project was to feature student voice. The students decided on the theme and had a big hand in implementation. “The students spearheaded the vision,” said Frisco.
Students used their own interlocking arms and included a raptor, the school’s mascot, to convey unity. Minnesota native plants were incorporated to convey the idea of caring for the environment. Students arranged the imagery onto paper, then transferred and enlarged the design onto approximately 30 panels that fit together to create the mural. Students and art teachers put months of effort into painting the individual panels. “All the pieces worked together even if you didn’t know how, like a jigsaw puzzle” - said UK Udoh, an ERHS senior.
Averi Bednar, an ERHS junior said the pieces were repainted several times in order to merge painting styles and better match colors. It was frustrating at first, but it made her open minded to different styles. “It was a good learning experience and taught me not to be too attached to work”, Bednar said. Raaga Podaralla, another ERHS senior said colors would run out and you’d have to mix new paint. Colors and consistency wouldn’t always be the same. It was “something you needed to adapt to,” said Podaralla.
The mural is located in the ERHS cafeteria, a collaborative community space near the activities entrance where many visitors have the opportunity to view the piece.
ERHS Visual Arts Department, Ms. Champoux, Ms. Frisco and Mr. Nagahashi, supervised the project. COMPAS, a local non-profit arts organization, provided financial support and teaching artist for technical support. Original photographs of Minnesota native flowers by Amelia Kullman were referenced for this work.