lindsayryden

Pebblebrook High School Mural: Believe You Can

Paint Love Artists Lindsay Ryden working on the mural at Pebblebrook High School

Paint Love was asked to help with a mural project at Pebblebrook High School in Cobb to celebrate their new academy launch. Pebblebrook, a title I school, kicked off the school year with a new brand of education that engages every student with a choice, and a path to college or career – or both. We wanted to tell this story from the artist's point of view! Give a warm welcome to Paint Love Artist, Lindsay Ryden. Lindsay is a painter and illustrator with an amazing heart. I'll let her take it from here. 

When I volunteered to be the artist for Pebblebrook High School’s new mural, I was excited. I had an opportunity to create a larger-than-life visual for their rebranding. Beyond the rebranding, though, I felt an immediate sense of purpose driving through the heart of the project, from start to finish. I had signed on to something bigger than just a simple rebrand. I was part of a mission, broadcasting a visualization of the future. The mural was designed to incorporate the students’ responses to the high school’s new motto, “Believe You Can.” Each participant wrote down what they believed they could accomplish in the school year and beyond. The responses that resonated most with this theme were then recreated, word for word, handwriting for handwriting, onto the wall. I wanted the students to look at the mural and see their words, reflected in their own unique hand. And this is where it got me.

Sketch for the Pebblebrook High School Mural

As artists, it’s easy to get stuck. Stuck in our own heads, stuck in a job that doesn’t allow us the freedom to be who we were created to be, to go through the motions of the day, without giving serious thought to the intentions driving our actions or to the belief we have in them. Like the students wandering the halls, from class to class, it’s easy to keep our heads down and push on to the next task, our vision dimmed from the busyness of life. But without question or hesitation, those students put the life of their words into a brand new and beautifully fresh perspective. Taking each child’s dreams, quite literally, in my hands—scraps of paper with carefully crafted intentions—and making a public testament to their futures. This is what brought purpose to the work. Seeing the kids light up as they looked at what they had written, permanently fixed onto the wall. Hearing their voices, (whether whispered, yelled or even sung across the hallway…) was inspiration enough.

Mural at Pebblebrook High School by Paint Love Artists Lindsay Ryden

Their voices are heard, and will be heard, every time someone looks at that wall. A physical reminder of what they had set out to accomplish for themselves and for the people in their lives who cheer them on. From dreams of graduation and scholarships, to changing the world and making a difference. Hopes and dreams for the future are far too often kept silent or even repressed, especially now—where everything is filtered through a phone screen or the infinite and impossible standards of idealized beauty. Sometimes, all it takes is a handwritten note, filled with promise, to truly make an impact.

Reading over Lindsay's words gave me such a fresh perspective. I especially love this: 
"It’s easy to get stuck. Stuck in our own heads, stuck in a job that doesn’t allow us the freedom to be who we were created to be, to go through the motions of the day, without giving serious thought to the intentions driving our actions or to the belief we have in them."
I am so thankful that we're able to bring projects like this to life and help the students at Pebblebrook High School tell their story a little louder. A big thanks to Lindsay Ryden!

Read more about this project in the press:

Cobb Cast

American Heroes at Powder Springs Elementary

THE ORGANIZATION

Powder Springs Elementary works closely with parents, local businesses, churches, and other organizations to support the students. As a Title I school, Powder Springs Elementary is eligible for funds used to support extra instruction, hire additional staff, and to provide instructional resources and materials. The school's vision is to provide pathways to big dreams. 

THE PROJECT

After working with the Cobb County School District on our recent metal flower project and this pop art mural project at Norton Park Elementary School, Paint Love was asked to assist in an arts integration projection with another Cobb County School, Powder Springs Elementary. 

The Supervisor of Visual Arts for the Cobb County School District Judith Condon connected Paint Love, with 3rd grade teacher, Amy Myers. Amy had an incredible vision to create a piece of art in the style of Charles Bibbs “Mother of the Civil Rights movement The Legacy of Hope"  A piece he was commissioned to create for The Association for the Study of African American Life and History based on the civil rights movement.  (You can see the piece he created here.)

Her students had studied American Heroes all year long and as an arts integrated classroom, she wanted to be able to create a unifying work of art to tie together what they had learned in history.

With insight from fellow Paint Love Artist, Lindsay Ryden, Julie & Amy choose to have a little girl portrayed in the work of art to represent the students being the next wave of American heroes.  Julie visited Amy’s class and was able to start her portrait in the classroom so the students could see her process and ask her questions about her work.  

Julie finished the piece in her studio and brought it back to add on the student’s work.  Each student created individual works of art on a chosen American Hero.  Julie then carefully cut the art to fit the patchwork quilt. She used every piece of the student’s artwork. There were no scraps left behind.  It seemed to fit together seamlessly! In homage to the original work by Charles Bibbs, The students decided to title the piece “The Daughter of Civil Rights; The Journey Continues”.

“My experience working with Paint Love was amazing! The artist working on the project was professional and worked so well with my students. She was able to make our vision for a hero mural come to life. One of the things that I liked best was that my students were honored as artists themselves and their work was shown great respect and value. My students felt empowered due to this recognition. I would have never been able to create something as beautiful as what was produced without the help of this amazing organization. I will use them for many more projects in the future!”
Amy Myers, 3rd Grade Teacher at Powder Springs Elementary

Each patch of the cloak was made of an individual students work.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Support more projects like this for schools in your community by donating or giving supplies or materials. Paint Love plans and coordinates enriching events like this for as little as $5 per student at no cost to the school.