This mural highlights my appreciation for Kinmen and the welcoming community that helps make it such a special place. While I may be the one who painted the mural, my students are the ones who did the bulk of the work. From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to use the mural as a teaching opportunity and in some way, I wanted my students to be a part of the process. Once I decided that I wanted to use two large hands as the base for the design, I turned to my students for help.
First, I taught them about murals and public art, making it clear that art can be abstract and that often times the most beautiful component of art is the concept within. Then, I gave each student a piece of paper with two hands outlined like in the mural. I told them about my plans to paint a mural at school and why it is that I chose to use hands as the main visual. I expressed that hands hold a lot of symbolism for strength, growth, communication and love. Hands are also used frequently in classrooms for various craft projects and high-fives were among the first ways I connected with my students. I told the students to draw what Kinmen means to them, and to include things they do in Kinmen and places they frequent. Next, I looked at all of the designs my students had created and began piecing together a draft of the mural. All of visuals in the final design were inspired by my students.
By having my students think of the design, I tried to include components of Kinmen that were from the perspective of locals. In addition to the mural, I had every student and faculty at the school include their own handprint on a nearby wall. This is a representation of their participation in the murals design. Also, by having their own handprints on the wall, it serves as another reminder of how the people in Kinmen are a big reason why Kinmen is so incredible.
After I completed everything, I gave a presentation to my students that reinforced how crucial they were during the design process. I showed the illustrations they created alongside the final mural and had the students find which specific elements were in both their work and the mural. This was a fun game for the students that really made it clear that they were involved and active during the designing stages.
The mural took about two weeks to complete. My friends Rebecca Lim and Jules Dubin were a huge help during the painting process. I would like to thank An Lan Elementary and my LET, 陳曼瑩 老師 (Samantha) for allowing me to execute this project on school grounds. This mural is a small gift to this community that has given me so much.
I have now completed four murals; two in LA, one in Costa Rica and now one in Kinmen. To see my other murals, artwork or my blog about my time as a Fulbright ETA, check out my website www.adrianbrandon.com.
Author: Adrian Brandon, 2015-2016
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