I originally developed this concept in in 2018 for Design School at Wenona School in Sydney. In short each student creates a mini street art mural on a piece of plywood, then we photograph the murals and render them onto photos of walls in the world. Thus the students see themselves and their work in the world. Its digital street art, and we end with an exhibition to celebrate the journey. This time (June 2019) I was at Braitling Primary in Alice Springs with a year two class of 25 students.

The aims of the project are to:

  • Engage students in a four week art project with a therapeutic component.

  • Contribute works of art to be installed in a shared learning space.

  • Address key psycho-social outcomes with an emphasis on belonging.

I refined the process from its first adaptation by streamlining the making story into four steps and better articulating the project aims and outcomes:

  • Students develop skills related to the artful expression of their emotions.

  • Students create meaningful works of art to take home and also see that work reflected at school.

  • Students experience improved group cohesion and a sense of belonging.

  • Students re-imagine what art is or could be and relate positively to their own expression.

The four steps in the making story are:

  1. What’s your name? (tags, nicknames, personal style)

  2. What’s your background? (colour, texture, process)

  3. Funny Faces (personality, character, paste-up)

  4. Exhibition

In the end step 3 turned out a bit differently to how I had planned it, mainly because I didn’t run to theme and instead went a bit freestyle. At every step my focus was on setting up the container and then letting the kids play and experiment and just encourage every bit of curious attention. Its like coaxing a turtle out of its shell, the space has to be safe and the turtle has to want to know what’s out there. It doesn’t help if you say, “Hey there turtle, come out and do this premeditated activity which will make you look like everyone else.” There’s a time and a place for that, but it doesn’t seem to result in an actual sense of belonging to the same extent as, “Hey there turtle, come out and do whatever you want with this cool stuff and some other turtles and I’ll make sure you’re safe.”

Anyway, here are some photos from the making story;

And here are some of the rendered images;

And here is some teacher and student testimony;

Working on an on-going project allowed students to see their hard-work paying off as they showed a great level of pride in their final pieces. Students gained a better understanding of each other’s different backgrounds, emotions and personalities. Ultimately creating a greater level of acceptance within the classroom dynamic in a fun and hands-on setting...
Throughout the project students seemed to become more accepting of each other’s differences and show higher levels of understanding/respect for each other’s individuality and different personality traits. Students commented on and complimented peer work (not only peer friendships) and were very willing to help each other when needed.
— Ms Lucy Andrew (Classroom Teacher)
I used to think art was just people making stuff and now I think art can be painting in the world.
— Student
I used to think art was drawing now I think art is everything.
— Student
I didn’t know that street art was art.
— Student

And finally, when it was all over, we made the local paper: