Senior artists leave legacy through murals

+Kapasi+%28Left%29+and+Dolan+%28Right%29+converse+as+they+paint+opposite+sides+of+the+mural+together.

Deepa Gautam

Kapasi (Left) and Dolan (Right) converse as they paint opposite sides of the mural together.

Deepa Gautam, Features Editor

Amidst busy hallways and classroom doors at WA, blank walls are transformed into vibrant stories. Color flows through the school with intricate details and striking imagery, attracting attention to otherwise overlooked walls. Behind each breath-taking mural, however, lies countless piles of corrected sketches and preliminary drafts, hours of hard work, and most of all, a senior artist dedicated to keeping the walls of WA colorful.

Student murals have been a part of WA’s history for as long as most can remember, gaining popularity as a senior capstone project over the last ten years. For many seniors, this provides a platform to give back to the school and leave a legacy for future generations. This year, while the concepts range from heartfelt activism to Eiffel Towers and blooming flowers, each is the result of immense creativity and hard work.

For seniors Sahar Kapasi and Eva Dolan, whose finished mural depicts two hands reaching for each other against a green background, their concept had begun as a homage to issues surrounding WA. Following the aftermath of the WA basketball game and several instances of racial insensitivity, the pair felt compelled to create something that would spark conversations and leave a lasting impression on the school. 

“[I realized that] conversations sparked from the basketball game showed how so many people have similar experiences; from racist and homophobic slurs, to less direct forms like lack of representation within the school curriculum,” Kapasi said. “[I chose this project because] the blank wall gave us a lot of freedom on the message we wanted to express to our school community.”

To begin a mural, seniors submit their request to guidance counselors Heidi Hider and Susan Lynch, before it is reviewed and approved by Principal Jim Antonelli. The concepts are considered on a first come, first serve basis, and are revised along the way before the artists can transfer their vision onto the wall.

However, before the seniors could execute their idea, they spent weeks brainstorming the inner workings of the painting and uncovering symbols that would best express their theme. Drawing inspiration from Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam painting, the mural’s focal point involves two hands of different backgrounds reaching for each other.

“We like this symbol because of the gap between the fingers, reflecting that while our school community has definitely progressed, we aren’t there yet,” Dolan said. “The hands are symbolic of people from all backgrounds coming together [because] we wanted to highlight that no matter a person’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation, everyone should feel welcome and accepted in our school community.”

In order to further emphasize this idea, the pair decided to incorporate imagery of spring, which stands for restoration and future progress. Specifically, groups of unique leaves by the edges depict diversity within the school, while yellow pollen dots represent new beginnings.

According to Kapasi and Dolan, their love and skill for art has only flourished since they were freshmen. Including  meaningful details and significant themes, while incorporating visually appealing imagery into their art was something the pair learned to value during their time at WA.

“I took AP art this year and it has really encouraged me to research topics that are important to me, “ Dolan said. “When I was a freshman I drew ‘pretty pictures’ but now I also like to create pieces that mean something to me, and hopefully those around me, because I have recognized, especially with this mural, the impact art can have on people.”

Their impressive final product has caught the attention of several people around the school, sparking conversation.

“Even while the mural was still progressing since we’ve had so many people come up to us and talk about how they interpret the mural,” Kapasi said. “Especially in between classes, you can hear kids’ reactions to the mural, always positive, and that always makes Eva and I smile that the community has such a great response to the mural.”

 

 

On the other side of the school, blooming flowers and bright colors unite for a different purpose, introducing calm and nature-driven imagery to the walls. 

The artist behind this mural, senior Stephanie Chang, found herself inspired by a simple phrase: ‘Wildflowers don’t care where they grow’. This idea of decorating a wall with colorful flowers and spreading inspiration through her art, as she had seen others do, motivated her to begin drafting the piece.

“I always really enjoyed seeing the murals around the school and brightening up the blank white walls,” Chang said. “I take pride in my work and [I thought] having a mural up in the school is a great way to showcase it. I hope [my mural]  brings a sense of calmness, nature, and diversity, and simply brings the community closer together as a whole.”

Once the initial sketch was complete, Chang used various painting techniques in order to create gentle, smooth strokes. While some paints would stick to the rough, grooved walls, others did not apply as well, requiring multiple coats and brushes. According to Chan, learning to find creative solutions to such challenges has been a necessary, yet rewarding part of her artistic journey.

“Initially, I wasn’t very good with perspective and proportions, but after taking a few art classes, I learned to measure and use references to get the right structure,” Chang said. “It’s not like I started as an artist genius doing grand fine arts and stuff, but it was just something I enjoyed, stuck with, and got better at it.”

Similarly, along the foreign language office hallway, four seniors, Richa Juvekar, Kassy Sun, Rachael Yang, and Julia Botros have left their legacy highlighting each language offered at WA. Through four postage stamps, the senior artists give an impressive glimpse into each country’s most famous landmarks, paying homage to the language department. 

As a group project, this mural was unique in that it required the seniors to share a final product, while  contributing their own artistic flair and style. Yang began with the concept of celebrating the language department, and through multiple revisions, ended with the postage concept. 

“I hope that with my group, we can look back on the mural and feel proud of the work we put into it,” Juvekar said. “As for the WA community as a whole, I really just want it to be something that brings pride to the language department and represents all the languages equally.”

According to Antonelli, the murals have served as a great way for students to leave their mark on the school, while also encouraging self expression throughout the school.

“I absolutely love the murals,” Antonelli said. “I take great pride in making sure the murals stay safe and not damaged. I think they send a message that everyone is welcome at our school.”

Despite their distinctive concepts and styles, all of these senior artists have found themselves using the universal language of art to leave both a physical and permanent impact on the school.

“This year there are a bunch of amazing murals going up, everything from inspirational murals to a postage stamp mural,” Dolan said. “I think the murals make the school a more colorful, thought provoking, and inspirational environment.”