Art Creates Community

Seattle University continues neighborhood service and partnerships
2011-06-20
By Annie Beckmann
baileymural
Photo Credit: Chris J. Taylor

Seattle University students are brightening up Bailey Gatzert Elementary School with an art mural they created for the playground. Fine Arts Adjunct Professor Danila Rumold led the project as part of her Community Art & Mural Painting Technique class.  

On a recent tour sponsored by the SU Youth Initiative, Rumold visited Bailey Gatzert, where Principal Greg Imel told her he hoped to replace an existing mural at the school. “I thought art would be another nice element to bring to Bailey Gatzert and continue to build that relationship,” said Rumold.      

The Youth Initiative unites SU and the wider community with the goal of helping youth in the Bailey Gatzert neighborhood to succeed in school and in life.  

Brother Mark Elder, a visiting muralist from Chicago’s DePaul University, spoke to the students about the role of the artist as peacemaker in community art. He talked about creating public art with socio-political, community and religious themes and the dialogue it can produce.  

The 13 SU students met with Bailey Gatzert students, their parents and teachers to start the dialogue and collect ideas. “What do you like about school?” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?” were among the questions they asked kindergarten through fifth grade art classes. Early on, Rumold’s students taped hundreds of Bailey Gatzert drawings and other insights to their classroom walls for inspiration.  

“We wanted to connect with strong core values as a springboard,” Rumold says. “We chose a tree to represent growth.”  

Tetherball, four square and kickball definitely resonated with the students and can be found on the mural, along with jumping rope, hula hooping, flowers and sunshine. Chinese American Wing Luke, the Vietnamese Trung sisters, Chief Sealth, Principal Imel and several popular Bailey Gatzert teachers have cameos.  

The 8- by 28-foot mural was constructed in seven canvas panels made of marine plywood to keep the project manageable.  Once transported to Bailey Gatzert, youngsters could watch the mural artists at work and had a chance to stamp flowers on the tree with hand-carved rubber stamps.   

A student, teacher and parent celebration will be held in Bailey Gatzert’s garden today from 3:30-5 p.m., to raise the mural.