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Student murals honoring the history of Rainier Beach High School

by Eboni Wyatt, excerpted by Tina LaPadula

A group of students outside on a sunny day, lean over a mural with paintbrushes.

The Creative Advantage student residencies are flourishing at many Seattle Public Schools this spring. This spotlight focuses on a cool project collaboration with Urban ArtWorks, who is also a Community Arts Partner Roster.

This March Urban ArtWorks piloted a new program at Rainier Beach High School, working with three of their Theory of Knowledge (TOK) classes. Teacher Steven Miller reached out to Urban Artworks, through the Community Arts Partners Roster, with this project idea, wanting to provide his TOK classes with the opportunity to create actual art and produce 3-6 murals at Rainier Beach High School.

Close up of a mural painted by a black student wearing rubber bands and bracelets on their wrist.

The purpose of these murals is to say good-bye to the campus and honor the history of this school community. Rainier Beach High School will be in a new building in 2 years. Miller saw this as a unique opportunity to liven up the current campus with student-led art. With a focus on storytelling, exposing students to BIPOC artists and muralists and honoring RBHS students’ unique voices, Teaching Artists Dovey Martinez and Carlos Martinez are working with these classes to research, design and install these murals. Each class will also create hallway exhibits, giving the students the opportunity to create individual pieces expressing their feelings about the mural theme.

Urban ArtWorks School-Based Programs provide opportunities for students in grades K-12 to work alongside teaching artists to install murals at their schools. They explore themes and issues that are important to their community, create a design, and bring that design to life. Each project is tailored to fit the needs of the individual school or classroom and can be integrated within the standard grade-level curricula.

Urban ArtWorks seeks to engage youth and communities in the creation of public art that inspires connections and honors their voices. They envision a world where all people have access to the transformative power of creating public art. Urban ArtWorks is excited to continue growing their In-School Programs and curriculum and hope to serve more schools in the 2022-23 school year. If you’d like to learn more about their program offerings, check out Urban Artworks’ The Creative Advantage Roster profile.