Community murals are participatory, collaborative projects led by an artist/facilitator. The murals can involve any number of participants in the research, design, drawing and creating of a mural. The project can involve any age group, can be created for any kind of site, and can work with any subject matter. Murals are ‘site-specific’ works of art, taking into account both the physical considerations of site, and the sociological implications of its setting. The mural design must take into account the needs of its audience and appropriateness of its content for its site. When creating community murals, artist Beth Shadur works closely with each site to determine the specific needs of the participants and audience for each setting.

The magic of mural creation lies in the collaborative process used to create such ambitious projects. The process teaches participants to work cooperatively to create a work that is a product of a team. Murals also use many methods of higher-level thinking skills and problem solving, making the mural process valuable in an educational setting. Research skills, prioritizing information, decision-making skills, design skills, drawing and painting skills are developed for each individual participant, as well as mathematical skills used in the scaling up of a drawing from a ‘drawn-to-scale design’ to the wall or support surface. Writing skills can be developed to enhance the project by asking students and participants to journal, write related poetry, or document the project.

Shadur has worked with wide ranges of populations in creating murals, from young students to senior citizens, and has worked with people with disabilities as well. She speaks Spanish, and can work with any population in the creation of a large-scale community mural for any interior or exterior site.

To download mural brochure, click here.

Shadur directed a mural project with 200 6th-8th grade students at Centralia Junior High School in Centralia IL, through a grant from the Illinois Arts Council. The students studied the history of education in their area, including the original one room schoolhouse there, the history of school integration in their area, the history of their famous Orphans basketball team, and the importance of historical figures from Centralia in the development of education. They learned about their history through a variety of learning experiences, including a visit to the terrific history museum there, where they looked at primary source material, artifacts, and documents.

Students chose to show the history of education in their mural on a large blackboard, flanked by a one-room school classroom on one side (depicting early history) and a computer lab on the other side. The earlier historical details are painted as old photographs pinned to the board. The more recent details are painted into bubbles, which eminate from the bucket used by a girl to wash the board.

As an Artist in Residence, Shadur has led many painting workshops with students, and specializes in watercolor workshops. Students are taught professional watercolor techniques, including the use of materials, color theory, creating transparent watercolor glazes, and painting various kinds of watercolor washes and strokes. Students create watercolor paintings on a variety of themes, and often used thematic material from the school curriculum. Shadur emphasizes the value of arts integrated curriculum in her teaching process to help students develop higher level thinking skills.