Students design Buford Middle School mural

Painting reflects school's garden, student input


Students gathered at Buford Middle School on Friday to see a 2,200 square foot mural unveiled. The painting, a collaboration between University students, community members and Buford students, reflects an adjacent school garden.

Members of the Student Arts Committee and the Charlottesville Mural Project unveiled a 2,200 square foot mural at Buford Middle School Friday.

University students worked with Buford students to come up with a design which reflects the school yard garden the mural is facing, Mural Project Director Ross McDermott said. The mural now covers the gym wall, which previously towered over students.

The University of Virginia Student Arts Committee and the Charlottesville Mural Project unveiled a 2,200 square foot mural at Buford Middle School on Friday.

“It is basically like a landscape setting … [s]o it shows sky and Blue Ridge mountains,” McDermott said. “[The intention is] to get the kids to be more aware of gardens and agriculture and food in their own lives.”

Third-year College students Lauren Lukow, Emma Volpe and Kelsey Petrie, members of the Student Council Student Arts Committee, led the project.

Lukow said the group started by brainstorming ideas for the mural with the seventh and eighth grade students. Then, first-year Mary Kate Bailey, one of the mural’s co-designers, drew a mock-up of the mural and presented it to the students.

“We showed [the design] to the class, and we got feedback from them,” Lukow said. “They told us to make sure we recognized the garden aspect of the mural.”

University students laid out a digital projection of the design on to the garden wall and partnered with Buford students to fill in the large, geometric design, McDermott said.

“[O]ne of the challenges was that it was on brick,” which makes it more difficult to draw details and straight lines, McDermott said.

The mural was placed on a south-facing wall to lessen exposure to sunlight, McDermott said, which should help to keep the mural vibrant for up to 15-20 years, given the type of paint used. McDermott said Buford will have to make a decision at that point to either restore the mural or paint a new one.

“I would just love for it to be replaced with a new piece, that just reflects the school or community at that time,” McDermott said.

Lukow said Bailey and second-year College student Monica Mohapatra, the other co-designer, sought to make a lasting piece.

“I think it’s a very timeless mural, I don’t think its one that’s very current and in-the-moment,” Lukow said. “I hope the school keeps it around for a long time.”

The Charlottesville Mural Arts Project, which has several murals in the community already, began in 2011 and was inspired by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program — the largest public art program in the United States, McDermott said.

“Before we founded the program, we made a field trip up there — saw a lot of the murals and saw what they did right,” McDermott said. “They’ve transformed a city and put Philadelphia on the map for its murals.”

McDermott said he hoped the Charlottesville Mural Arts Project would similarly be able to impact its community and reflect the character of the city and its schools.

Funding for the project came from the Mural Arts Project, the Student Arts Committee, a donation from Virginia Film Festival Director Jody Kielbasa, a vice provost for the arts at the University, and various other members of the community.

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