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Elmwood High mural defines identity

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One hallway in Elmwood High School is now much more colourful.

Approximately 75 students took part in completing a mural in the hallway next to the school’s administration offices. The hallway is visible from Chalmers Avenue, meaning passersby can see the mural from outside the school.

The project was initiated by art teacher Briony Haig, who was able to bring in Point Douglas artist Annie Bergen through the Manitoba Arts Council’s Artists in the Schools program, the Children’s Heritage Fund, and a Gifted and Talented grant through the Winnipeg School Division.

The two had collaborated to create a mural on the Mennonite Central Committee thrift shop just west of the school over the past two years, and welcomed the opportunity to team up once again.

The mural’s theme is identity, described by Bergen as encompassing personal, community, and school identity. The finished product depicts local landmarks and highlights community activities.

Art projects tend to be individual endeavours, but Haig said there was plenty of teamwork involved in Elmwood’s mural.

"We tried to include as many as possible while still keeping it a learning experience so that the kids who worked hard on it have a feeling of ownership," she said. "It’s pretty cool to make a permanent mark on your school."

The project began with Bergen visiting students on Nov. 19. The students each proposed what they hoped to see as part of the mural. That night, Bergen worked as many elements as possible into the final drawing.

"The first day, I worked with students to gather information," Bergen said. "We were looking around the school for ideas, brainstorming and making sketches. I took all of those sketches home with me, measured the wall and then combined the most common ideas into a mural."

Painting began on Nov. 20 and wrapped up Dec. 4, with six to eight students working on the project at a time. Haig said there will be an unveiling, although a date has not yet been set.

Bergen hopes students learned more than just artistry from the experience, as several practical skills and tools were required to complete the project. As well, she made a point of instilling a sense of perseverance in the young artists.

"I teach them how to draw with chalk so they can erase it and re-work it until it looks right to them," Bergen said. "They’re not intimidated by getting it perfect the first time. Even after doing this for 12 years, I still erase and erase and rework and rework."

Haig hopes students will still get more opportunities to paint this school year, as she is looking to get funding to paint another panel on the thrift shop.

dan.falloon@canstarnews.com

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