Last spring, 600 young artists from T.G. Smith Elementary came together to create a nature-inspired mural that is now on display at the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center in Springdale, Arkansas. Through the Community Assist program, Art Feeds was able to supply T.G. Smith students and faculty with supplies and training curriculum, including an entire unit on mural creation. With the guidance of TG Smith Art Instructor Susan Jones, students owned the process- from choosing the theme to creating hundreds of drawings to be incorporated into the finished product, the students saw their hard work come to life in front of their eyes. Their enthusiasm and ownership over their work was evident as they explored the finished product, which came to life at the heart of the new Springdale Nature Center.
While there is a fundamental process to creating a community mural, the experience is unique to every school and artist involved. At T.G. Smith Elementary, the students were especially inspired by the outdoors and all of the fascinating plants and animals found in the natural state. Over the span of four weeks, the students learned about storytelling, brainstorming, and community collaboration. Each student was allowed to take ownership of their part in the greater creation, drawing their own interpretations of the theme. Once the students finished their artwork, the drawings were traced into a graphic design software system and compiled into a bold and beautiful creation for the entire community to enjoy.
In November 2020, 50 students and faculty from T.G. Smith Elementary gathered at the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center for the official mural reveal. The day was complete with a private tour of the nature center and refreshments for the students as they celebrated their accomplishment. Here at Art Feeds, we believe that the shared experience of creating a mural allows students to learn valuable life skills while participating in telling a collective story. Grateful to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, The Walmart Foundation, and Dr. and Mrs. James Laurence Jones for making this mural possible.
Photos courtesy of Melody Maynard