The use of art to liven up a communal space can create an entirely different environment, and some students at Bert Church High School have taken on the task to re-imagine a blank canvas on campus and use their talents to turn it into something special.
In partnership with mural artist Scott Clark, students at Bert Church have been working on transforming a previously bare wall into a colourful mural that they and their fellow students can enjoy for years to come.
Bert Church's art room can be found on the second floor of the high school. The room is made up of walls with windows that look out onto a courtyard with three brick walls and a cement pad.
Art teacher Lisa Tschritter said the school community has talked about doing something creative with the space for years, but that nothing ever came to fruition – until now.
After exploring an art market in the trendy Calgary area of Kensington, Tschritter stumbled upon Clark’s work. Later examining his website and having a desire to work with a local artist, she felt Clark would be the perfect person for the school to collaborate with.
“He's collaborative and I really liked his aesthetic,” she said. “I thought he would be a good fit for the school.”
After Tschritter discussed the idea with Clark, the muralist came to the school to meet with students and begin the creative process. The 28 students participating in the project drew out their design ideas and gave them to Clark. Using their ideas, he put them together into what is now the mural’s official design.
The students have been working in shifts over the course of the last five weeks to complete the project. On top of this, they have had the opportunity to learn from a professional mural artist. The theme came from one of the students’ drawings that included the phrase “We pave our own path” written on it.
Though the mural isn’t complete yet, Tschritter noted the space is already beginning to feel more alive. She said the experience is also providing students with a glimpse into the world of art as a potential career.
“It's real-world experience for them,” Tschritter said. “What they're learning in school, now they're learning in a real-life application. They're just really enjoying the process.”
Tschritter highlighted how great it’s been working with Clark on the mural project. She noted his inclusivity was an important reason why the school decided to work with him.
She said Clark has taken the time to work around the school’s schedule and has been great to communicate with through the entire process.
“He’s been fantastic,” she said. “He was very excited to work with us and very easy to communicate with.”
When asked about his experience of working with the Bert Church students, Clark said he's always amazed at the youth who commit to art. He said his role is to simply provide guidance through the process.
“I'm always pleasantly surprised when I’m working with people, especially youth who are really committed to their art practice,” he said. “I’m just there to guide them and listen to them.”
Clark said he was inspired by everyone's work. He mentioned that most of the elements within the mural came from the students' ideas.
Tschritter hopes working on the mural project will inspire her students to explore the world of art beyond high school, adding that experiences like this can have a lasting impact.
Making the space more vibrant and inviting, Tschritter noted the mural is now part of the students that participated in the experience. She said that the now-colourful space will be a more welcoming environment.
“That's a legacy for them and I think they're very excited about that,” she said.