Muraling Mount Tamalpais

Ella Kharrazi

Mount Tamalpais (Mt. Tam) stands as a backdrop to Redwood, visible from almost every part of campus and projecting natural beauty throughout Marin. However, this pillar of our community is not apparent from Principal Barnaby Payne’s office. To remedy this, three junior Advanced Placement (AP) Art students, Maggie Kelly, Elaina Ananicz and Lilly Dell’Orto, are filling one wall of the office with a landscape of Mt. Tam as seen from the South Lawn. A scene of Redwood sports activities on the football field will accompany the background. The artists began the project in mid-May.

Two AP Art students display their work, all of which has prepared them to paint the mural. (Photo by Lauren Poulin)

Having grown up in San Francisco, with Marin and Mt. Tam as popular attractions, Payne feels that the mountain holds great importance to this area, inspiring his decision to feature it as a focal point of the mural.

“The image of Mt. Tam gives Redwood High School an incredible sense of place,” Payne said. “In terms of high schools in the country and the views that high schools have, I would argue that we probably have one of the most beautiful views in the country because we are looking at Mt. Tam, [which] has got an incredible history. It just means a lot; it’s the symbol of Marin County.”

In addition to the meaning behind the content of the mural, Payne commented on the impact art can have on a space, especially a school. His past experience as the principal at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, a school decorated with murals and student artwork, allowed him to witness art’s influence.

“Some of it was traditional art, and some of it was alternative art, but all of it was incredibly creative and colorful and beautiful,” Payne said. “I just love the way that it adds to the vibe of the school.”

Kelly, one of the artists, also touched on art’s significance in a school setting, adding that she hopes this mural will inspire more around Redwood.

“I think that having bland walls around the school is so depressing. We walk around and it’s the same color walls, which is

Aiming to capture a “pillar of our community,” the mural will feature Mt. Tam as well as a scene on the football field. (Photo by Aanika Sawhney)

kind of boring. There are some murals in the hallways and stuff, but they are all kind of dated. I feel like if we had more student involvement in art around the campus, it would make it a better place to come to every day,” Kelly said.

Payne echoed Kelly’s message about the uninviting and out-of-date nature of school buildings as they are.

“School buildings can be ugly. They can seem very cold and institutional, and I think murals make them feel warmer and more comfortable,” Payne said. “Redwood High School was built in the 1950s at a time when school architecture was not very creative, so our building is like a big cement block. If you look at our campus through an artistic lens, there is potential for murals almost everywhere.”

Kelly has already begun to make use of Redwood’s canvas with a mural she painted in room 255. Though murals are new

Junior Maggie Kelly began painting more seriously during quarantine and claims, “Without art in the world, everything would be pretty bland.” (Photo by Lauren Poulin)

and unfamiliar territory for Kelly, she has been painting since she can remember. She started making art more frequently during quarantine and has continued since then.

“Without art in the world, everything would be pretty bland. There are many different forms, and anybody can really get into it since there’s such a wide variety. There aren’t any negative factors, really. It’s relaxing and enjoyable,” Kelly said.

Art is also unique in that it lasts for future decades to appreciate. Payne acknowledged this legacy the mural will hold.

“Maybe [the mural] will stay in here for many generations of principals and students,” Payne said. “Maybe it will still be here in 50 years, and people will wonder about the story behind it. Maybe it will make people happy for a long time. Yeah — that would be my dream.”