Community art project attempts to break down barriers

Maggie Smith

A sea of pink tiles with student-written messages cover the CEA wall, arranged artfully so that the spaces between them create the pattern of a chain link fence. When responding to the questions, “Who do you love?” “Who needs your love?” and “What do you love?” students’ answers ranged from “My fish” to “Refugees” or “Friends.”

The project, completed during the last two advisory periods on Feb. 6 and 13, was led by art teacher Lauren Bartone.

Initially, according to Bartone, the mural was only going to be for an event at the de Young Museum called “One Love: A Celebration of Art and Community.”

Senior art student Danielle Kisseberth places a tile on the CEA wall
Senior art student Danielle Kisseberth places a tile on the CEA wall

“I was creating the project for [the de Young], and at some point was like ‘we should be doing this at Redwood,’” she said. “It would make sense to do it here, we have some of the same needs, I think.”

Though the art project may seem to be a rebuke to many of President Trump’s policies because of the resemblance to a wall or fence, Bartone said the message of the project wasn’t purely political, but more of a reflection of current times.

“I think with current events and this time of year in general, it’s always healthy for us to spend some time thinking about people that may be different from us in some way, and the ways in which we can support them,” she said. “There’s a lot of political divisions and there’s plenty of new differences we’re very aware of.”

Junior Lucas Marchi, an AP Art student who worked on the mural, said the message of the project centered around divisions.

“It’s an interesting time to think about borders,” he said, mentioning both the ideas of more concrete borders like Trump’s wall, and more symbolic divisions like growing Islamophobia. “It’s just about seeing across boundaries.”

Bartone said the mural could relate to Valentine’s Day, but that the project goes beyond just romantic themes.

“I’m much more interested in the people we decide are different than us because of some kind of division, it could be social, political or geographic, and spend some time thinking about why we care about them, why they matter,” Bartone said.

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Bartone has worked on public projects for the de Young and the San Francisco Art Commission before, and she said that her experience as a public artist and a teacher lets her see the needs of the student body more clearly.

“[Public artists are] always thinking about how a project might serve the needs of a community and the ways in which it could be useful. Sometimes projects like that can help a community focus on certain values,” she said.

Senior Eve Anderson, an AP Art student, said that the purpose of the mural was to spread the message of love to the Redwood community.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe in. It’s who you love and what you support, and that we support each other, and that’s what brings our community together,” Anderson said. “I hope that people realize that love is out there for them and that they’re supported no matter who they are.”