Teachers and staff at Fireweed Academy in Homer are known for using the arts as a core tool in their curriculums. In no way is that better represented than through a new mural taking on life on the outside of the Little Fireweed building on East End Road.
Teacher Maureen Wilkinson recently guided her students through the second phase of a new mural project — one phase for each quarter of the school year. The theme of the mural currently displayed on the outer wall of the school is “habitat.”
The four themes of this school year are: cycles, habitat, structures and explorations. Each teacher comes up with their own ways to impart these themes onto their students and incorporate them into the curriculum, Wilkinson explained. In collaboration with local artist Carla Cope, Wilkinson’s students have been internalizing each quarter’s theme by helping contribute to a group art mural.
Wilkinson said the idea was born when she spoke with a friend who had been working at Razdolna School at the head of Kachemak Bay. The friend told Wilkinson that through the popular Artists in Schools program Razdolna hosted an artist who did mural work with the students.
From there, it was a matter of planning the mural project and getting parent volunteers on board, which included Cope, Wilkinson said.
For the first quarter mural, the art was based on the method of Kandinsky circles from the art world. This was tied into the “cycles” theme. For this quarter’s “habitat” theme, students were asked to pick an animal they wanted to portray in the mural, with the stipulation that they all be animals found in an Alaska habitat.
The finished product boats myriad eagles, seals, ptarmigans and moose across the colorful backdrop featuring Alaska landscapes and, of course, vivid skies. The kids come up with the ideas for their contributions themselves, and are proud of the finished product, Wilkinson said.
“They loved getting out there and doing all the circles,” she said. “And they had so much fun with all their animals.”
Principal Todd Hindman said he’s a big fan of the project and the idea behind it.
“I love the idea of having four different murals over … the year,” he said. “… It’s another way of showing that art is important for our school and our program. It makes it visible to the public on a daily basis.”
Wilkinson has already been hard at work planning for the next quarter’s mural based on the “structures” theme. The mural is set to involve a cityscape with buildings of different sizes and shapes that the students will get to choose themselves.