Susan Griffin, Santa Barbara Museum of Art senior teaching artist, recently completed work with an enthusiastic group of Notre Dame School’s summer program students to create a mural that will enliven the walls of the historic school building for years to come. This particular 8-foot by 24-foot work of art marks the 16th year the ongoing Summer Youth Mural program of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) has been partnering senior artists with schools and community groups to teach young artists the tradition of mural painting,
This year’s mural, entitled One Stone at a Time, explores the beauty of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and also celebrates architectural elements of their own Notre Dame School and the historic arts district of Santa Barbara. In preparation for their project, the young artists, aged 5 to 13, visited SBMA and studied ancient stone columns and sculptural details in the museum’s antiquities and painting collection, paying particular attention to Johan Jongkind’s work The Cathedral of Notre-Dame, from the Pont de l’Archevêché (1849). Their stroll back to campus allowed for additional observation of textures, materials, and design details of the buildings, especially the Arlington Theatre, Trinity Episcopal Church, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, and the Santa Barbara Courthouse.
Back in the classroom, the artists sketched and brainstormed plans for the final composition. Just as painters did long ago, they learned to cover the surface of the panel with gesso before painting which creates greater depth in the finished work. They sketched on progressively larger and larger surfaces using a variety of materials including pencil and chalk pastel before “graduating” to acrylic paint and paintbrushes. The students enjoyed the process of exploring different color combinations for the stained glass rose window which serves as the mural’s centerpiece. They imagined grim-faced gargoyles and delighted in learning that the gryphon (a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle typically portrayed as gargoyles on cathedrals of old) shares the last name of their teacher.
One Stone at a Time – 2010 Summer Youth Mural
Griffin recalls a moment at the completion of the project, “After studying the architecture of the cathedral of Notre Dame, the students literally created this mural with a palette of color, stone by stone, square by square. The students and I were delighted when we finally stood the mural upright. Alyssa, one of the artists asked, ‘We did that?’ They were all so proud - and I was very proud of them.”
The final mural will be installed and officially unveiled on the campus of Notre Dame School on September 7.
Participants of the 2010 Summer Youth Mural Project at Notre Dame School:
- Mariano Avila
- Emiliano Avila
- Kiera Carrillo
- Alyssa Carrillo
- Alyssa Dominguez
- Jose Angelo Esleta
- Juan Esleta
- Jonathan Gonzalez
- Jonathan Lopez
- Vianne Martinez
- Julio Montes
- Alyssa Nuno
- Ariana Rivera
- Celine Rivera
- Angelica Rodriguez
The Summer Youth Mural Project has been made possible through the generosity of Astrid and Lawrence Thayer Hammett. For more information about any of the programs mentioned above, contact Patsy Hicks, SBMA Director of Education at (805) 884-6432.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a privately funded, not-for-profit institution that provides internationally recognized collections and exhibitions and a broad array of cultural and educational activities as well as travel opportunities around the world.