Mayans

Mayans

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gone with the Wrecker's Ball

When I first started teaching, way back in 1974, I taught at one of the two junior high schools in the district.  There was a long stretch of white wall along one side of my classroom, and a few years into my teaching career I began painting murals on that wall.  (I didn't ask the principal for permission, but fortunately I didn't get in trouble.  When the principal saw what I was doing he liked the idea.)  In the morning before classes and in the afternoon after school, I would spend some time painting.  The murals depicted the history of Mexico.

The paintings were never finished.  In 1983, due to declining enrollment, the school was closed.  I moved on to the other junior high and eventually to the high school.  The school district foolishly did not maintain the building.  Water pipes burst during the winter, and the interior of the former school was a shambles.  Finally, twenty six years later, the building was demolished.  Remarkably, someone on the crew took a photographic record of each room in the school prior to the demolition.  The photographer took numerous pictures of my paintings.  All of the photos were posted on an alumni website.

I assumed that, after all those years of neglect, my murals were peeling and covered with mold.  Imagine my astonishment when I saw that they were still intact and that the colors were just as vivid as ever.  I think that my artwork has matured since those days, and to my eyes those paintings now look dreadfully amateurish.  Still, I'm a bit sad when I think that they are gone forever.








  

6 comments:

  1. Well, I really like these! Not dreadful at all.
    It's always weird to look at our old art work!


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  2. Wow, Bill! You are so talented! How nice that you've been able to find photos of your old work. I quite like the murals, and beyond any question of style, it's lovely that you took the initiative to brighten up a drab space, and to provide a traditionally Mexican way of telling the history of Mexico to your students.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Wellfleet, MA
    Where there are no murals, only trees and seaside.

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    1. Thanks, Kim
      The students seemed to enjoy watching the progress of the paintings, and a few of them would even stay after school and help me with the mono-color areas.
      At that time, due to declining enrollment, there were teacher lay-offs each spring. Being low on the seniority totem pole, I kept my fingers crossed each year, but due to my combined Spanish and social studies certification, I always avoided the ax. I would joke, "They can't lay me off. I haven't finished the mural!"

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  3. I wonder how many hundreds of students were impacted by those murals. What a great thing you did for all those kids. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Barbara. I like to think that I had some impact on some of my students. Although by the end of my teaching career I was counting the days until retirement, I had a lot of good years, and a lot of great students.

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