Garden Transformation at Austell Primary School

This is a guest post by Paint Love 2017 Marketing Intern & GSU student, Bianca Soler.

The 3rd graders at Austell Primary School chase one another along the side of the grimed outlined path that extends from the school’s garden.

With digging tools in one hand and piles of dirt in the other, the children commence their quest in creating the tallest dirt-castle of all.

 “I’m strong, like John Henry!” one shouts “Come on! Come on! We need it to be taller!” says another.

It’s noon, on a Friday – and the students are so engaged that they forget they’re creating something permanent.

In a couple of weeks, the soiled paths will have instructional signs placed along the side of them, with large, brightly colored murals that read “Welcome to the Learning Garden” and six vibrant colored benches and signs, the students painted themselves.

Austell partnered with Paint Love to transform the school’s former garden into something more bright and inviting. Leading the project artistically, was The Creatives Project studio resident, Meta Gary.  She created a way for the students to participate throughout the garden's transformation every step of the way.

The students participate enthusiastically; when a task is set up, they’re eager to accomplish it.

“I’ve been really impressed by the skill level of a lot of the students,” Gary tells Paint Love. “And this thing that if you give a kid a task how eager and readily they achieve it.”

The school gave Gary full creative freedom in the project. “They wanted color and light,” Gary said. “… And maybe mentioned that they wanted some benches.”

Her design is inclusive, both within the execution and the finished product. With a double-sided chalked planned to be at the end of the path, Gary transcends her vision into an all-encompassing experience for the children.

But she isn’t the only one impressed. “Seeing Meta’s vision turn into to a real thing”… “And to see her put it in the hands of seven and five-year-olds… That’s impressive,” says Lynn Sullivan, a teacher at Austell.

Sullivan believes in giving students the opportunity to get involved – and she’s witnessed first hand the affect it has on the kids. While teaching for six years at the Ben Carson’s Science Academy Center, Sullivan learned that when you give students the opportunity to learn the material hands-on, the subject matter sticks.

Sullivan has also witnessed the subsequent incentives that arrive from these projects.

“For the students, this project has given them motivation for behaving as expected.”… “Despite what you might see in the classroom – when they’re out here, they’re different.”

The students are proud of the ownership in something, especially with a project that will be here long after they’ve left. When asked about their experience, answers ranged from, “I learned that anyone could paint” to “you don’t kill insects when you find them. You put them somewhere where they can be safe and give them a new home.” 

A special thanks to David Holcomb, who constructed the frames for the mural panels.


Southside Showdown at the High Museum


In the first ever Southside Showdown, four area high schools gathered together to compete in a series of art categories. Banneker, Creekside, Langston Hughes, and Tri-Cities high school students met at the High Museum of Art in midtown Atlanta and a team of Paint Love artists served as judges. Teams competed in: Partner Drawing Swap, judged by Lindsay Ryden; Traditional Meets Contemporary, judged by Ellen Gadberry; Cyanotype mixed media, judged by Caitlin Martin; Sidewalk chalk monsters, judged by Dayle Bennett ; Creating recycled lamps, judged by Sabrina Barilone; Graffiti tags, judged by Lydia Mays; and 100 Item Sculptures, judged by Miranda Kyle

Elizabeth Eppes, fine arts coordinator for the Fulton County School System, said of the event:

“This is a really important event for art students in our district because unlike sporting events where students have the opportunity to have teamwork and collaborate and to see what their peers across the district are doing, it’s an opportunity for art students to do the same in a way where they’re exposed to professionals.”

Read more about the Southside Showdown:


Safe Space Eggs at Georgia Center for Child Advocacy


Caitlin Martin led this sweet Easter themed craft at the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy. The students got to paint and decorate their egg and use air-dry clay to create a little creature to live inside it. We talked about safe spaces, and what makes us feel safe while we turned the eggs into cozy homes for colorful turtles, dinos, and birds- complete with soft beds and handmade clay teddy bears! 

We love working with the kids from the GCCA. Their organization provides counseling, community, and support to children and families who have experienced abuse. While the kids are engaged in the Paint Love project, they often offer workshops for parents and then once everyone is finished, the groups join back together - the kids excitedly showing off their projects- and then everyone shares a meal provided by the incredible staff. 

There are so many things to appreciate about Paintlove, but what strikes me the most is the way the organization brings the power of creativity and self-expression to touch the lives of children who have been hurt or are vulnerable to their circumstances in our community. I can think of few activities that are as empowering and healing as inviting a person to bring themselves into the external world through their art. It is a joy to partner with this organization both personally and professionally.
— Rebecca Ahmadi, therapist and counselor at GCCA