UGA art education project with Gaines afterschool program results in new mural for Aderhold Hall

Athens, Ga. – A colorful, new six-by-seven-foot mural painted by local elementary school students now brightens a third floor wall of the University of Georgia College of Education’s Aderhold Hall, thanks to a collaborative effort led by a group of UGA art education students.
The mural, which is titled “Shaping our World,” depicts the relationships between humans, animals and the environment. It recently was installed between the college’s Reading and School Psychology clinics. Now, as children and their families attend the clinics, they will be welcomed by the art of local youth.

The project was directed by Lauren Kucera, an adjunct instructor, and James Woglom, a doctoral student in art education, who were teaching a UGA art education class spring semester that featured a month-long practicum experience with students in the Gaines Elementary Afterschool Program.

The UGA students planned four-week, age-appropriate units connected to a central theme. These units featured children’s books and included reading, writing and art-making in small groups. “Reading the books together inspires conversation about environments, large and small, and the relationships between humans and other creatures, real and imaginary, in those environments,” said Woglom.

“The children create their own worlds and inhabitants, learning media and techniques to use for the mural panels,” he said. “Each mural panel is unique, reflecting the media and technique utilized, as well as the individual artist’s hand and view of his or her world. Combined, the panels create a large globe of diverse blue and green tones, textures and gestures from elementary and college students working together.”

“The spirit of the mural and the project’s integration of literacy, the environment and the arts represent the teaching, research and outreach of the third floor of Aderhold,” said JoBeth Allen, a professor of language and literacy education whose initial idea led to this project. “Our scholarship focuses on language, literacy, culture and individuals’ cognitive and emotional well-being, so we welcome this mural.”

The project was actually the culmination of a proposal Allen made to UGA College of Education Dean Andy Horne last summer about creating “Halls of Learning” in the college featuring the work of faculty and students work, allowing for a more engaging, attractive educational environment.

The idea was set into motion by Winnie Smith, a former administrative assistant in the dean’s office and now an administrative manager with the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science. Smith (BFA ’00), currently a master’s student in art education, talked with Allen about developing a mural similar to one outside the UGA Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development. She contacted art education professors Tracy Costantino and Richard Siegesmund, who suggested the project for the UGA class working with Gaines Elementary School.

For more information UGA’s College of Education, see http://www.coe.uga.edu/.