Worth a thousand words

Student mural teaches lesson, gives food bank new identity

Posted: Wednesday, March 09, 2005

 

  Students from Kenai Peninsula College work on a mural for the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank Tuesday afternoon. The artwork will hang on the outside of the agency's building once it is complete. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Students from Kenai Peninsula College work on a mural for the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank Tuesday afternoon. The artwork will hang on the outside of the agency's building once it is complete.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Students in Celia Anderson's intermediate painting class at Kenai Peninsula College have a hunger for art.

For the past three weeks, the 11 students have fed their hunger by painting a 24-foot-long mural that will grace the outside of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank on Kalifornsky Beach Road. Anderson said the mural is part of a service learning project that's designed to show students the value of working creatively with the community as a whole.

"We thought it would be a good opportunity to do a project that would give my class a real life experience in painting," Anderson said Tuesday while supervising work on the mural.

The colorful mural design is centered around a large bowl containing various fruits and vegetables. On the sides of the bowl are scenes showing people working in a garden and unloading giant loaves of bread from a truck. Anderson said the design was a group effort, with aspects of many different suggestions from students worked into the final scene.

The process of painting the mural took a lot more time and effort than simply deciding on a design, however. Anderson said her class went through a number of steps before settling on the design, including studying the history of murals and even spending some volunteer time at the food bank in order to get a better idea of what the agency does.

"We needed to know what happens at the food bank," she said.

Having students volunteer in the warehouse and eat in the soup kitchen gave them a much better idea of what the food bank is all about, she said. Some students had no idea what actually goes on there, despite the fact that the college is just a couple miles down the road.

"I didn't even know they had a lunch room," art student Anna Edmondson said in between brush strokes.

Fellow painter Tracie Stans said she wasn't aware of how many people the food bank serves.

"I was surprised how many families come through," Stans said.

In addition to learning about the food bank, Edmondson said the painters also have learned a lot about their fellow students by working elbow-to-elbow with one another.

"I learned a lot about the strengths of the other painters in our group," she said.

Anderson said that's the idea behind doing the service project — learning both about painting and the community.

"My students have gained a great deal from doing this project," she said. "This is a very special place, and they do a lot in the community. I think we have realized that."

The mural will be finished soon. Anderson said once the paint dries, it will be placed above the food bank's warehouse door — a perfect location for passing motorists to view it.

Anderson said she believes the mural will be a perfect way to enhance the visibility of the food bank — something Executive Director Linda Swarner told her the nondescript steel building was lacking.

"(Swarner) said so many people go by and don't know what goes on here," Anderson said.

Now, with the full-color, 24-foot mural set to go up outside, it's likely no one will make that mistake in the future.



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