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Murals are large paintings in public places. That public place may be a cave-like in the early prehistoric Lascaux Cave paintings. Or it may be inside of temples or tombs like at Egyptian or Mayan archaeological sites. Murals, from the past to the present, are public art. They are created by people for other people to see and contemplate. You might discover murals inside buildings, and on buildings. There are many kinds of murals. Some murals are about historic events. Others offer wayfinding. Some record what was on that site before people were on earth. Even others are creative endeavors that speak to the past, present or future. Murals are public art. They are created by people for other people to see. The possibilities are endless!

Activity 1 – Find a Mural In your City

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Odds are you’ve walked past a mural before. You may even have a favorite one. What have you noticed about it? Does it represent something historical or a particular culture? Does it tell a story? Does it mark a place in time? Or is it solely a design? That’s the beauty of the language of murals; they can offer messages and thought and are available to anyone who passes by. Take a photo of the mural. Research the name of the mural and the artist or artist(s). information such as the Record the names of the creators, the location of the mural, the neighborhood it is in, and any noticeable surrounding details. Is it in a park? Across the river? Does it cover an entire building? Sketch or diagram the mural you choose. Carefully record the shapes, forms, images, and patterns. Become a mural recorder!

Activity 2 – Murals Tell Stories

Many murals tell stories. The stories might be from a book, a movie, or from a tall tale, or something real. Story telling murals include a setting and some character development. Characters can be people, some even include dates, words, and texts. Who is the mural telling a story about? Where is the setting? What is the message? When is the time frame? Murals can show detailed events and create a sense of camaraderie amongst people. They create and record stories with images! Sometimes dense urban areas create nature murals of the biodiversity of life that lived in the area before humans settled. Others share extinct species to make us question, what can be done to help species from going instinct. Think of Solar system murals, food chain murals, human migration murals. Create a mural that tells a story!

Activity 3 – Short Poems as Murals

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Have you ever read a short saying scribed onto the side of a building that made you pause for a moment? Poetry is found all around us and can paint pictures of community, identity, and other themes in our minds. In this activity, choose your favorite short poem or saying, or create your own. Think about what the words mean to you. What themes can you find that make the poem or saying important or interesting? Take note of the themes you find and combine them into a single sketch that represents your chosen poem or saying. Then write in your poem or saying; allow it to flow around, through, or within your sketch. If your poem is for making a change, you might want to have big and bold letters. If your poem is about nature, however, you might consider writing your words in a flowing line like a garden vine. Notice how your drawing and words interact with each other. How does this interaction strengthen the meaning of your poem or saying? Create a poem mural and upload it to the gallery.

Activity 4 – Murals Record History

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Murals have become popular as expressions of neighborhood historical pasts and their potential for the future. Research mural projects online and find out if there are ethnic areas of mural history where you live. Find a neighborhood with historic murals. One good example is America’s Chinatowns. Another example is the history of Indigenous peoples and key moments in a neighborhood’s development. Dig deep to uncover something unique about a neighborhood in your city and expand on this knowledge. Choose a topic that expresses your neighborhood values, relates to the neighborhood heritage, or something meaningful in the past. Murals can show detailed events and create a sense of camaraderie amongst people. They create stories with images! Make a poster of the murals in a neighborhood of your choice and share it with others. Upload your poster to the gallery.

Activity 5 – Murals as Wayfinding

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Imagine flying into an airport when visiting a city. Is the airport filled with art of the region? Does it offer murals of the landscape, cityscape, and heritage of the city you are visiting? Airports are gateways to culture and express the ethnicity and demographics of the city’s population. They share the local talent of arts and crafts. A mural in a train station or an airport or a bus station can offer visual wayfinding of where you have landed and where you can go. Take a look at this mural in the town of Deauxville and Trouville. It presents a welcoming place that helps orient travelers. The same can happen on buildings outside of train stations, bus stations, and inside the airport. Art can communicate directions and sense of place. Create a Wayfinding mural for your city and upload it to the gallery.

Activity 6 – Murals as Patterns

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Artists and designers create beautiful composition with lines, shapes, patterns, and colors. Looking at colorful geometric patterns can distract us, excite us, calm us. Patterns exist all over the world and can tell stories. Fractal patterns are amazing self replicating patterns that can be found if you look close and closer. Patterns call upon lines, shapes, forms and repetitions. Think Solid /Void. Look at the Art Nouveau Patterns, the Destjil patterns, and Nature Patterns. Large patterned murals captivate our attention and serve as backdrops for selfies, connecting people to a place. Find an empty wall in your neighborhood that could be brightened with a colorful pattern mural. Show the wall without and then with the mural! Bring a place alive!

Activity 7 – Mural Preparation

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Believe it or not, preparing a wall for a mural can be just as, if not more work, than designing and painting the actual mural! Artists often sand, scrape, and prime a wall depending on its material and wear and tear. The preparation and restrictions of a specific wall can force significant changes when producing the mural. In this activity, first choose a topic for your mural. Sketch an idea of how you want your mural to look. Then, choose a shape of wall. Think of how the shape of the wall will change the lines and form of your mural. If your shape has a hole in the middle, how can you use the hole to make an interesting feature of your mural? Update your original sketch based on your findings. Then, choose a material for the wall. Think of how the material affects the texture and patterns of your mural. If your material is brick, how can you either enhance or hide the brick using color and lines? Update your sketch again based on your ideas. Compare your original sketch and your final sketch. Upload them to the gallery.

Activity 8 – Make your mural!

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Now it’s time for you to unleash your creativity and become the artist of a stunning mural! Start by choosing the perfect location for your mural. Consider how the surroundings can inspire your design choices and speak to the audience you’re trying to reach.

Tell a compelling story using only images and colors, aiming to educate others on a topic that’s close to your heart. What message do you want to convey? Why is it essential to share this message? Is it part of a broader movement, or does it aim to inspire those in your school or neighborhood? Whether it’s a heartwarming, feel-good mural or a powerful call to action, gather images from magazines, draw your own, or use various materials to create an awe-inspiring visual experience for everyone. Think about the scale of the mural, playing with different sizes to make an impact.

Once your mural is complete, share it in the gallery and then with your class, a friend, a family member, or a community leader. Your work has the potential to spark meaningful conversations and inspire positive change. Share your draft with your class, a friend, a family member, or a leader of your community. Finally, post your mural in the gallery so students all around the world can see it!

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