Local Student Artists Celebrate Monarch Butterflies Through Murals

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The Mariposa Arts Council has joined forces with Mariposa County Office of Education (MCOE), in supporting and promoting the newly implemented Strategic Arts Education Plan.  They provide support to MCOE and school sites county-wide in developing and implementing several arts education initiatives and programs, including a youth-led mural project.

When asked about their partnership with the Arts Council and the latest collaborative project, Director of Educational Services, Lydia Lower said, “We are thrilled with our ongoing partnership with Mariposa Arts Council. We worked together with a variety of community groups to create a long-term Strategic Arts Education Plan that outlines our commitment and dedication to Arts Education within Mariposa County. You can see these ideas already coming to life through things like our latest mural project at MES and MCHS. Not only do these murals add to the overall positive culture of our school sites and community, but they have also provided local artists and student artists the opportunity to take charge of a large scale project that benefits our community.”

Two youth-led mural projects are being done at Mariposa Elementary School and Mariposa High School. The murals are designed and painted by local high school students with professional assistance and guidance from a team of muralist and teaching artists.

Justus Wellcome (left) and Clay M. Rivers (right) are shown in front of the giant Monarch butterfly mural they helped create at Mariposa Elementary School. (Photoo submitted by Iris Wellcome.)

Funding for this project came from an implementation planning grant from the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association Arts Initiative and the Stuart Foundation.  Additional funding came from local donors who took part in a recent “Support Mariposa Student Artists Giving Tuesday” campaign.

The first project has been completed and is on display at Mariposa Elementary School. Arts Council mentor muralist and teaching artists, Clay M. Rivers and Daisy Phillips shared their creative process with two student artists, Justus Wellcome (lead artist) and Autumn Stock (mural concept design).

When asked what she enjoyed most about her involvement on this project, Wellcome said, “Being a part of such an amazing project was a really fun opportunity I will carry with me forever. I hope I can continue to help along with projects in our community as I finish off my senior year. Daisy, Clay, Autumn, and Alisha were all so amazing and I’m proud to say I learned so much from them.”

The massive pair of monarch wings is scaled to fit as a backdrop for kindergarteners as they begin their education and establish a sense of pride and self on campus.” I can’t tell you how excited all of us are to see students get their photo taken in front of the butterfly each year and watch their wings change as they grow up with us,” exclaimed a very excited Erin Vereschagin, principal at MES.

“For us, our school family is strong, as are the traditions we are steeped in. Paying homage to the school’s original mascot is something that we hold very dear. It is truly going to be a legacy for generations of MES students, and we are so grateful for the efforts put forth by the Mariposa Arts Council and MCHS seniors Autumn Stock and MES alumni Justus Wellcome. It will and has made such a positive impact on our school,” Vereschagin concluded.

The second youth-lead mural will be at Mariposa High School, where Art Club students will be collaborating on a panel series that will depict the metamorphosis stages of the butterfly. This project is currently a work in progress.

The Arts Council has been a long-time partner with the school district and its school sites in providing many standards aligned arts education programs. “We are thrilled to support the Mariposa County Office of Education with the implementation of their newly adopted Strategic Arts Education Plan,” exclaimed Cara Goger, Arts Council Executive Director. “This project directly hits a number of Arts Council’s goals by providing an authentic learning experience for the young artists, and adding a beautiful, engaging, and meaningful piece of public art to our community’s creative placemaking portfolio that will be enjoyed by students, teachers, administrators and the entire community for years to come. We have a number of exciting arts education programs, creative youth development capacity and resource building initiatives, and youth-led creative placemaking projects in development that we look forward to sharing with the community in the near future. Stay tuned.” Goger concluded.

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