Visual art students paint mural at Crete Academy for community service trip

Eva Salas ’22 works on part of the mural at Crete Academy with visual arts students.

Annabelle Nickoll

Students painted a 5’ by 140’ mural at Crete Academy in Hyde Park, an elementary school that serves homeless, special needs and underprivileged youth, on Friday, April 30.

Crete Academy is a charter school founded by Hattie Mitchell after her experience working on Skid Row and witnessing the effects of homelessness on children. Due to their living situations, most of Crete’s students’ only opportunity to play outside in a safe environment is at school.

Adison Gamradt ’23 participated in the community service event and said she painted to help add art to the school.

“By painting the mural, we were able to beautify their outdoor area so [the students]  can play surrounded by happy colors and art,” Gamradt said.

Visual arts students were able to sign up for the field trip event

Students worked from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. painting the back patio of the school..

Upper school Art Teacher Connor Thompson organized the mural painting with help from the schools’  parent community service team. A total of 36 students attended to volunteer in two shifts.

Olivia Gubel ’21 was another one of the students who helped paint and said she enjoyed working on the project.

“I had so much fun working on the mural especially because it was the first time in so long that we’ve had a chance to do a group project like this,” Gubel said “It’s so empowering being able to watch a project come together and transform a space in such a short amount of time because of the amount of people involved.”  

The mural, an abstract outdoor scene featuring a cartoon cat participating in various playtime activities, was designed by Thompson.

Thompson created the template for the mural

“The space will be used as an outdoor eating area for kindergarteners and first graders, and the director asked for something that would make them happy, so I came up with the motif of the cartoon cats,” Thompson said. “They are overlaid on a colorful abstract design that was inspired by Matisse’s cutouts and the gestural energy of graffiti.” 

Thompson was worried about completing a large project in a short period of time but after a long day of work, they were able to complete the mural.

“I think the joyfulness and playfulness of the process and collaboration are captured in the end result,” Thompson said. “It actually turned out just as I imagined it in my mind’s eye while sketching it. I couldn’t be happier with the results.”

Gamradt said she appreciated the opportunity to paint the mural and serving the community.

“It was such an incredible experience bringing such a large work of art to life and fulfilling knowing that this project made an impact on such a deserving school,” Gamradt said.