Spring Branch Art Trail Offers Colorful Quarantine Activity
The combination of Spring Break and the coronavirus pandemic has left schools across Houston deserted this week. But some Spring Branch ISD students are making their way across the district, searching for murals that together make up the Spring Branch ISD Art Trail.
The art trail is a collection of framed murals, measuring two feet by three feet, that are spread across about 30 elementary, middle and high schools in Spring Branch ISD. Each inspired by a different children’s book, the murals were hung last week in visible spots across the schools – mostly along fences, doors or windows.
The pieces were created in collaboration between district art teachers and students and stem from an idea shared by Stephanie Walton, an art teacher at Wilchester Elementary.
“The whole project started with a book called Maybe Something Beautiful [by Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael López] ,” Stephanie explained. “That book talks about a girl in a part of town in San Diego that’s not so pretty, and her thought was to bring art to those areas.”
Stephanie thought this book, based on a true story of how one neighborhood was transformed through art, was an interesting way to connect with the community and bridge art with literacy. She presented the idea to fellow art teachers during a conference over the summer, and it was met with enthusiasm.
“Everyone just got really excited about it,” said Sally Doyle, visual arts coordinator for SBISD. “It was something different that we had never tried before.”
Art teachers who decided to participate could choose any children’s book to inspire their mural, and then they worked with their students to create the mural in time for Spring Break.
While the art trail was originally only to remain up through the end of Spring Break, Sally said it will remain up for at least another week due to the coronavirus. She added that viewing the art is a great activity for children and families who are stuck at home in quarantine.
“It ended up being this miraculous thing that people can now do on their own,” she said. Most of the murals can be viewed from inside one’s car, and an interactive map available online shows description of each of the pieces as well as their locations.
The Burke family – mom Kate and daughters Aubrey, 8 and Maris, 5 – are making a scavenger hunt activity out of the art trail. Over the first three days of their Spring Break from Wilchester Elementary, they visited each of the murals and took photographs with each one.
“It’s just a fun activity that gets us out of the house,” Kate said.
Among the murals is one inspired by Arthur Zarr's Amazing Art Car, a book written by Bellaire resident Cathey Nickell.
When she found out her book inspired a mural, Cathey immediately drove over to Cornerstone Academy, where the mural was hung.
“I’ve never seen anyone take my book and use it as a literal interpretation for art,” she said. “It was really moving when I saw it. I like knowing that my book can inspire someone else to do something creative, because that’s kind of the whole point.”
Editor’s Note: View the art trail map here.
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