Classroom Mural for Newcomer Immigrant Students
Our project is a collaborative mural at Oakland High School that centers social justice themes and youth voice. The mural will be located in US history teacher Cole Margen’s classroom and will be designed and painted with his students. The creative process will be led by teaching muralist Nadya Voynovskaya.
Beginning in September, we will be hosting eight 2-hour after-school sessions that will include the research, design and painting of the mural on a 12 x15 ft blank wall in Mr. Margen’s classroom. Four of the sessions will be focused on generating ideas, sketching and collaging to get a group consensus on main ideas and representation for the mural. Nadya will then synthesize student ideas and drawings to create a final design and show it to students for feedback. Once the design is approved by students and appropriate faculty, we will begin the fabrication process which includes priming the wall, projecting/transferring the design, mixing acrylic paint colors to match the design, and painting. The remaining four sessions will be dedicated to painting with color mixing, basic painting skills, and proper use of materials taught.
Mr. Margen’s students are all ESL/ELL students who recently immigrated from Central America, Yemen, China, Vietnam and Eritrea and are all from low-income/working-class households. Students’ native languages include Spanish, Mam (Mayan), Chinese, Vietnamese, Tigrinya, and Arabic. Because of this shared, albeit varied experience of migration and multicultural experience, we predict those will be some of the major themes of the mural. We hope to use the mural as an opportunity to foster cultural pride, discuss nuances of the child immigrant experience, share helpful resources for undocumented folks, build community within our mural group and foster dialogue in school within the different class periods. Students will gain skills in visual storytelling, drawing, creative collaboration, identification and discussion of social justice topics
Funded by Oakland, CA (October 2021)