Stratton students busy on mural they'll be remembered for

Stratton students busy on mural they'll be remembered for

CHAMPAIGN — If there's one place where it's OK for kids to paint on the walls, it's Stratton Elementary School, also known as Stratton Academy of the Arts.

And since Oct. 10, art teacher Casey Kashing, artists Mandy Danowitz and EKAH (Mahomet's E.K. Anna Hennequet) and the students in Kashing's studio course have been doing just that, putting another mural on Stratton's walls.

"It's going to take some time as this is an ambitiously large mural," Danowitz said. "I think we should finish by the end of the year, or maybe stretch it into January."

The idea was hatched by Danowitz, Kashing and arts coordinator Emily Young. They brought in EKAH to collaborate with the students, the artist's singular influence evident even in the early stages of the project.

"Right now, this is like following the directions," Kashing said. "A lot of our kids are learning how to paint, to begin with. But there's really a huge sense of ownership when it comes to creating artwork. They realize this is not creating art that goes home to the fridge. This is for the entire school to see."

Other students monitor the mural's progress, watching it inch closer to completion each time they pass by and showering the 10 girls in Kashing's studio with praise any time a change is obvious.

"Their friends are like, 'What did they do this time?'" Kashing said.

The students haven't monopolized the learning process either: Kashing said that while he has some experience painting, none of it has involved murals.

"One of the nice things about working with the other artists is that I'm learning about creating," he said. "I paint, but I've never painted that big. When it comes to painting, it's just like life: You're going to make mistakes."

Kashing added that once the mural is finished, the party isn't over. Already, he's planning to have his students design artwork that will cover up stray crayon marks on a fellow teacher's bookshelves.

And another mural just outside his room is in the planning stages as well.

"It's a great piece of community," he said. "Kids get to be part of school. It has them excited to be here. One of my girls is a twin. The only reason I can tell her apart is because of how big she smiles when she sees me."

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (3):Art, Education, People