Youth Projects

Murals transform public spaces into areas of beauty and a format to communicate shared values and knowledge.

I view myself as the conductor for an orchestra that has come together to express a chosen theme.

I lead participants in planning, research, design, and composition of a mural or other collaborative work. Small groups draw and paint their individual contributions to the project. I work with all age groups from pre-school to seniors, gearing my expectations to their age and skill levels.

My collaborative murals with youth have been funded by
Washington State Arts Commission Arts in Education Program
Columbia Gorge Arts in Education
Young Audiences of Rochester (NY)
  And several school districts in various states,
community youth programs,
and environmental education projects.

School Residencies

My Shared Visions Workshops and Residencies in schools are individually geared toward grades and subject matter. Multiple classes may create multiple murals, or several classes may work together on one mural.  Programs are created for each school depending on age groups and numbers of students involved, length of residency, and the dimensions of murals to be painted. Murals may be painted, drawn, collaged, or assembled depending on techniques desired for student learning.

"Helping Hands"

This mural was created during a 2-Week Residency partially funded by the Washington State Arts Commission.  Target groups were two classes each of kindergarten, 1st and 6th graders.  The theme of the mural was to promote a safe and healthy environment for learning.

This particular Shared Vision Residency began with directed discussions with students about the theme.  Kindergarten and 1st graders articulated ideas of people helping one another in a variety of ways.  These ideas were passed on to the 6th graders for elaboration. 

6th graders envisioned health and helping as the process of doing group sit-ups.  They also envisioned the environment:  lakes, mountains, forests as part of their healthy community.  The visual images in the mural were all ideas drawn by 6th graders during planning of the mural.  Kindergarten and 1st graders explored paint mixing, colors, and shapes.  Using shades of blues and purples, 1st graders drew and painted the figures that show the outlines of the mountains. 

The concept of the potlatch (potluck) was suggested by a Native American 6th grader
as a symbol for community sharing.  Represented within the orange and yellow tree is a table with people sharing a meal.  Kindergartners painted the green shapes and orange leaves after mixing those colors.  6th graders drew and painted the individuals within the tree.

Follow this link to see other school
and community youth murals

Follow this link to see a mural project for
Curlew School District

Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader Version 3.0 or newer installed on your computer to be able to view the Curlew School District mural project. If you don't already have Reader, you can download a copy for free by clicking on:

Talking it over

Discussion with students.

kids1.jpg (38322 bytes)

Art in progress.

Learning about a color wheel

Learning about the color wheel.

Community Murals

Community murals can be painted for a wide variety of purposes, such as commemoratives, public education, community service, celebrations, replacing graffiti with art, or as a one-day special activity.  The process of painting a mural draws together the participants, their families, and passers-by, as well as being a lasting gift to the community at large.

This mural was a community project to cover graffiti and to promote the work of Pro Esteros, an environmental education organization dedicated to saving the coastal estuaries of Baja California.  Core groups of student participants were local middle school classes and interested high school and college students.  We also involved nearby pre-school students and neighborhood children and adults as we were painting the mural.

The youngest artist was 3 years old and the oldest was 53.  The entire project, from scraping the old paint to the final touches, was accomplished in 5 days.


2003-2011 Janet Essley. All Rights Reserved
Last Updated:  2/10/11
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