Appendix J - November 2001
Sable's letter to Lightyear and parents concerning the mural project
When I went to the web to search for Fresco Painting, I found only 17,306 sites! After spending the next month reading those 17,306 articles, I discovered that none of the Fresco Painting throughout centuries of art history was painted on boards. The award-winning Captain Dewey High Fine Arts Academy Art Department integrated the art of fresco painting into the curriculum, not with a web search, but with a hands-on project to create a work of public art. Our learning started with a design phase and we studied how fresco paints are mixed and culminate with erecting scaffolding and painting a large outdoor fresco to become the focal point of the PTSAs Courtyard Beautification project. Not taking lightly a painting that would become a permanent work, the design phase stretched from one school year to the next. But in that tedious and disciplined creative process, a work of art was born, and the students design was accomplished.
When I went to Italy last summer and was moved to tears at the frescoes of Michaelangelo and spent three hours in one small room reading every word in my 100-page guide while poring over magnificent frescoes of Raphael; when our group traveled to see frescoes at the monastery in Assisi and in the magnificent Duomo in Sienna; it never entered my mind to be thankful that these frescoes hadnt been painted on boards, which of course, would never have survived the centuries, as did the frescoes.
In pleasant anticipation of doing our own mural, when I drove to [another part of town] and saw other murals and remembered the mural that had been on the exterior of Captain Dewey High's old field house until it was torn down to make way for a new track, and drove to [other local high schools] to see their campus beautification projects, it never entered my mind that Captain Dewey High PTSAs renovation project would not be another feather in the cap of the school district. We should applaud parents and teachers who take on beautification projects on their childrens campuses---projects completed at no expense to the district.
When I called Risk Management last spring and told them about our mural project and asked permission to have students on the roof of the breezeway and called Construction Management about obtaining the architectural drawings and again later to send someone out to look at the breezeway roof and got their advice about having proper footings of the scaffolding so as not to damage the roof, and enlisted the time and expertise of University Art professors and architects and an Artist in Education from the State Commission on the Arts to work with us, it never entered my mind that after we had all spent months fund-raising and had the very expensive paints and heavy emulsion delivered, scaffolding erected and inspected, and the students design for their mural carefully chalked on the wall, that the Facilities Management committee would meet, with no representative from Captain Dewey Highs Beautification Project present, and make a decision to disallow our fresco painting that had been 9 months in the making. That is a miscarriage of justice, and I object to the decision and to the process. The districts decision: paint on panels of wood instead; the district no longer allows painting on brick.
Imagine being a student who has studied acting for years and is finally cast in a leading role in the play. After several months of taking instruction and memorizing lines and spending hours in after-school practice, you are told, after the huge set has already gone up, that a play that others schools have done is now to be disallowed and you cannot get on that stage and have a chance to publicly perform your work. Imagine that.