Middle School mural project explores "Transitions"

Over two weeks in January and February 2010, the entire SPA seventh grade became mural artists. With the help of Twin Cities artist and designer Monica Fogg, the students planned, designed, and created a wall-sized mural that will be permanently installed in Bigelow Commons. View the photo gallery.

The Middle School Mural Project, funded by the a generous grant from the Citron family, was organized around the idea of “Gestalt: The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Working from that concept, Fogg guided the 77 seventh-graders through the process of exploring ideas, developing images, and executing a mural approximately 7 feet high and 19 feet wide.

Fogg initially developed a working title for the project: “Transitions: Taking Flight and Growing Strong.” Within that framework, the class was split into two thematic groups, with 40 students creating panels focused on “Growing Strong” and 37 students creating panels focused on “Taking Flight.” Within those two groups, the students worked both as individuals and in small teams, with each student executing his or her own design within a larger framework, exploring abstraction and pattern building. Each team worked to translate the design from scale drawings to a larger format and to assess how the work of individuals comes together to effectively create a whole image.

Fogg, who is on the faculty of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota has been involved with design for organizations including the Children's Theatre Company, Disney/Buena Vista, Joffrey Ballet, Warner Brothers, Paisley Park, Minnesota Opera, Lorie Line Music, and the Minnesota Historical Society, was impressed with how seriously the students took the work. “The students put a huge amount of effort into this project,” says Fogg, who notes that such collaborative work can be a challenge given the wide range of skill in any group. “Some students love art and have innate talent. Some love art and struggle with skill. Some don't know that they even care about art,” she says. “But at the end of the day, these students took great pride in both their own achievement and their team work. This experience touched them in ways they may not even know yet.”

The completed mural will be hung in Bigelow Commons on the Randolph Campus in the spring of 2010.