LTMS murals enliven scenes from novels

Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

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Students chose a favorite scene from "The House on Mango Street" for the first mural.

Students chose a favorite scene from "The House on Mango Street" for the first mural.

Students chose a favorite scene from "The House on Mango Street" for the first mural.In art class, students sketched their interpretation of the scene, and the mural artist used their watercolors for inspiration."Instead of reading it, you can see it," said eighth-grader Uneque Birch, who painted a pink castle in the mural promoting "The Phantom Tollbooth.""When we get done with all the murals, we'll help teach the other kids what we learned," said seventh-grader Audrea Craig.Eighth-grader Salihah Muhammad was also among the handful chosen as student-teachers for this project.“I have always loved the illustrated book. I still look at picture books. I’ve never grown out of them," said local artist Stevie Moore, who takes the lead on the murals. "Just have fun and put all you've got into it because it's all your imagination," said seventh-grader Djuan Richardson.

Considering the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words,” colorful new murals should easily stoke interest in “The House on Mango Street” and three other novels on tap at Lexington Traditional Magnet School.

Reading specialist Anita Mosqueda and local artist Stevie Moore paired up in a month-long project that links literacy and art. The idea is that interesting images can draw students into the story.

“You can’t read an entire book at a glance, but you can look at an illustration of a scene in a book,” said Moore, whom LTMS secured from The Living Arts & Science Center through a 2020 Vision visiting artist grant.

Mosqueda, who leads reading intervention classes, proposed focusing on key scenes that speak to the students’ imaginations. “For kids who struggle to read and write, vignettes are wonderful because it’s a little snapshot,” she explained.

After reading “The House on Mango Street,” her students decided to highlight the three girls riding a red bicycle. “We picked a scene we thought was funny. It grabs the reader’s attention,” said seventh-grader Audrea Craig.

Mosqueda then shared the two-page vignette with LTMS art classes, which produced watercolor sketches of how students interpreted the scene.

“I’m coming up with the final design, but I’m trying to incorporate a lot of the kids’ ideas and common motifs that keep reappearing,” Moore said while working on the first mural.

The students’ efforts pleased Mosqueda.

“They’re so clever. Some have made the streets of mangoes instead of bricks. It’s obvious they’ve paid attention to every single detail,” she said. “That connection we’ve made between art and literature has improved their comprehension and also built their enthusiasm.”

Mosqueda handpicked four youngsters to assist Moore with the painting in her classroom and various hallways around the school and to share the experience with their peers.

“When we get done with all the murals, we’ll help her teach the other kids what we learned,” Audrea noted.

“When students look at the murals, they’ll be happy because they read the book and recognize the scene,” added classmate Djuan Richardson.

After “The House on Mango Street,” the artist turned his attention to “The Phantom Tollbooth,” an adventure novel and modern fairy tale on the sixth-grade reading list. In the coming weeks, scenes will also evolve from “The Giver,” science fiction read in eighth grade, and “Tangerine,” a dramatic story read by seventh-graders.

“The kids are familiar with the details and specifics in the books,” said Moore, who approaches each wall as if he is designing a compelling book cover. “These murals are definitely more of an homage to the literature in the curriculum and the relationship the students have with that piece of literature.”   


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