SILVER SPRING – Nine-hundred-and-seventy-three unique squares and triangles now grace the walls of Eastern Middle School in a large wall mural that involved every student at the Silver Spring school.
School officials reached out to Rosana Azar of Silver Spring, who also has worked with young people at Beverly Farms Elementary School in Potomac, Silver Spring International Middle School, Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda and Temple Beth Ami in Rockville to create brightly colored murals through her company, Creative Adventures.
The theme of the mural at Eastern is “Unity Makes Community,” she said.
Students have been working on the mural for the past two-and-a-half weeks. It began in mid-January, when Azar spent about 45 minutes with each of the school’s classes, “inspiring them about what art can do,” said the native Argentinian.
Each child received a square or a triangle and was told to “find their own voice, their own symbol,” Azar said. They used acrylic paint.
The only rule was they could not use any words, letters, numbers or flags, she said, adding, “They needed to find their own way to describe themselves.”
Seventh grader Veronica Obler designed hers with “swirls coming out from the center.”
When she finished, she added her “artist signature,” she said, proudly.
“It looks pretty cool. I was surprised how well it turned out. I really was surprised how many kids took it seriously,” Obler added.
The mural fills the top of the walls above the students’ lockers along the main hallway near the front office.
Azar first designed larger mandalas, which are spiritual symbols in Hinduism and Buddhism that represent the universe. Azar made several, and the students colored them in.
Swirling all around the mandalas, which included bits of mirrors, are the students’ shapes. There were so many, that Azar and a few student helpers pasted them on the wall leading away from the mural, even turning the corner to fill part of another hallway.
Clair Young, a seventh grader, designed hers with “lots of colors and scattered lines.” She was very pleased with the mural, noting, “I think it came together really well.”
Eighth grader Hanna Legesse pointed to her square with pride, making special note of the red heart she had painted in one corner.
The mural “makes the school look nicer,” she said.
Azar also was pleased with the results, noting, “My dream is to touch as many lives as possible. I really wanted to get the whole school involved.”
School Principal Matt Johnson estimated the cost of the mural at $5,000. Grants and contributions from parents and the school’s, Parents Teacher Students Association (PTSA), covered the cost.
“None of it came out of our budget. We just don’t have that kind of money,” he said.
Azar immigrated to the United States in the 1990s and has been involved with art-enrichment classes and summer art camps. She also has worked with students and shown her own artwork in her home country of Argentina as well as in such cities as Paris, Berlin, Prague and Lisbon.