Through this unit I intend to form the groundwork to begin a series of murals in the first floor of my school. There are four sets of arched panels which occupy one hallway of a well travelled area. A perfect space seems to have been waiting to showcase the students work which this unit seeks to develop.
It occurred to me that this project could involve more students than actually work on the execution of the murals. I hope to develop activities involving the student body, in terms of coming up with the themes of these murals. I see a natural link to the Social Studies and Science Departments reflecting different aspects of the school’s emphasis. The Spanish and Social Studies Departments in my school both focus a portion of their curriculum on Mexico. I hope to tie into their curriculum, directly focusing on mural making in Mexico and contemporary Chicano muralists.
Seventeen W.P.A. murals are housed at Troup Magnet Academy of Sciences where I am currently teaching. Five are located on a little travelled area in the Guidance wing on the second floor. Ten arched panels are in the Library and in the auditorium are two which the students and community have been exposed to as long as their existence. Seven of the murals were painted in the thirties by Hugo Ohlms, a W.P.A. artist commissioned to represent various events in New Haven history.
The titles of the five panels in the Guidance wing by Hugo Ohlms are:
1. Eaton Landing at Quinnipiac
2. Seven Pillars
3. The Amistad Captives
4. The Founding of Yale
5. Davenport preaching under the Oak
The two panels in the Auditorium by Hugo Ohlms are titled:
1. Lafayette visits New Haven
2. Whitney invents Cotton Gin
The ten arched panels in the School Library appear to have been painted by another artist or group of artists working together. These panels represent ten philosophical figures:
Although these seventeen murals would appear to be the place to focus my unit I will use them in a more general way as an introduction to the process of mural making and the background logically needed to introduce the W.P.A. section of my unit. I find it particularly challenging to make these murals come alive for my students because of their somber colors and heavy historical and philosophical subject matter. For this reason I have decided to create a historical background setting for mural making and include the Mexican, W.P.A., and Contemporary mural movement across America.
The main objective of my unit is to introduce mural making to my students and have them create a mural reflecting their ideas and images as a contemporary history within the school setting.
To achieve this objective I have structured my unit into four sections corresponding to the manner in which I would introduce this unit in my classroom.