Maggie Walker Mural Painting

Alex Broening, Staff Writer

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This September, members of the administration met with faculty, alumni, students, and parents in order to begin planning a mural for the external wall on the Bluestone Lobby. Colleen Hall, a Richmond community artist with experience creating collaborative murals, was enlisted to direct the project. All students engaged in art classes were quickly instructed to begin thinking about the project and were assigned research and planning projects to complete.

Having done research about Maggie Walker and the time in which she lived, students began to assemble ideas and designs. Through discussions, art classes contributed a variety of sketches and plans. These preliminary designs were then narrowed down, before being discussed by the committee. Eventually, after numerous drafts and redesigns, and much deliberation about color scheme and composition, Mrs. Hall presented the board with the final design of the mural.

Careful thought was given to the intended message of the mural. In addition to commemorating Maggie Walker and her life, the committee sought to create connections between the various members of the Maggie Walker community. The significance of the mural was especially important to Jacqueline Yu (’20), the student representative at the committee meetings. Says Yu: “The mural represents the history and profound importance of Maggie L. Walker to the civil rights and feminist movement and draws a connection between her life and our school’s mission.” Mrs. Hall also wants the mural to teach the viewer something about Maggie Walker’s history. “I feared that many of today’s Governor’s School students had no knowledge of the real accomplishments of the school’s namesake, and I hoped to try to bring current students and alumni together to honor Maggie Walker and share in her inspirational story,” she says.

With the design completed, the hard work of reproducing the detailed plan at a large scale began. The digitized design was projected onto 5-foot by 5-foot pieces of a special cloth. “This unique process allows for community engagement by allowing for the mural to be painted on fabric panels that then are installed on the wall” says Mrs. Hall. The projection was traced, and each region of color was labeled. Art students regularly contributed to this process, providing much of the manpower necessary for the arduous job.

Mrs. Hall’s process centers around the community involvement in creating the mural. In addition to the input of the Maggie Walker community in the planning stages, Mrs. Hall wants to include Maggie Walker students and the wider community in the painting of the mural. Part of her goal, she says, is “help participants share in the creative empowerment of having helped paint the mural.” Throughout March, alongside the celebrations for Youth Art Month, Mrs. Hall organized 8 “paint parties,” in which members of the community participated and painted in large blocks of color. Celebrating Women’s day and the March 14th event for MW alumni, Mrs. Hall arranged paint parties to also engage members of the Maggie Walker community that are not frequently at the school.

In addition, on Fridays this month, Mrs. Hall was in the cafeteria and the Sophomore/Junior commons during lunch and after school, working on the mural with interested students. Great progress has been made, and the mural is steadily approaching completion. The mural has seen great contributions from students, alumni, and even the students of Newtowne Tutors!

The initial plan for the mural called for its installation in mid-April, and the mural is now nearly ready for final touches. However, Mrs. Hall still has two more paint parties planned, for April 11th in the Senior Commons, and for April 12th. No painting or art experience is required, and participation is encouraged! The work is simple and extremely fun, and each task usually only takes about 5 minutes. Watch for Mrs. Hall on the 11th and the 12th to get involved and help out!

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