For eight weeks, students from two Albuquerque middle schools worked separately to create a community art piece; and Tuesday they finally got to see the fruit of their labor that brought the two schools together.
The two-paneled mural called “Collective Memory” is part of the Youth Mural Project. The non-profit, Harwood Art Center, began the project in 2013 Garfield Middle School. Recently, the program has extended to included students at Hayes Middle School.
According to Jennifer DePaolo, the Associate Director of community outreach at the art center, more than two-dozen students from both schools worked twice a week, after school, to create the mural. It took them eight weeks to complete both panels.
“Each school created a panel that we brought together,” DePaolo said. “Each school has its own identity and its own challenges, and we like our students to understand what other students their age are going through.”
Throughout the entire project, students from each school said they wondered what their “artist counterparts” were creating at the other school.
“It was really cool because I knew what we had done, but I didn’t know what they had done so when we got to see their part I was really happy,” Darwin Lehmer said.
Lehmer is an eighth grader at Garfield. He said not only was the project fun, but they learned a lot along the way.
The two panels incorporate an array of fish. DePaolo said students studied 16 species of fish that have either disappeared from or struggled to survive in the Rio Grande within the last few decades.
“We talked about fish as a symbol, often used in artwork as a transformation and journey and survival,” DePaolo said. “So the students began to look at fish as metaphors for survival in their own lives.”
Now, the two pieces will be showcased inside the Mesa Verde Community Center for everyone to see.
The students who are part of the Youth Mural Project have created 16 murals so far. Three of them are at public buildings around the city.