Southwood Academy of the Arts middle school student Jessica Webb helps paint a mural on a building with teacher Joshua Powell and volunteer Marci Sloan at G Street Community Park in Anderson.
After hours of painting, a group of eighth-grade students admired the progress they made on a mural that will serve as a backdrop for a community garden on an empty lot on G Street in Anderson.
“I thought it would be a tough process,” said one of the painters, 14-year-old Jessica Webb. “But it has actually been a lot of fun. It feels good to brighten up the community and to shine a little light on it.”
The students who painted the mural are part of the Arts in Basic Curriculum offered at Southwood Academy of the Arts.
They have spent three years attending art classes every day of the week. And as they prepare to finish their middle school careers, they tackle a “legacy” project that becomes a piece of art that they leave behind for their school or their community, their teacher, Joshua Powell said.
The school’s last two projects were wood sculptures that were completed and made part of the school’s campus.
This time, they decided to tackle a project off campus.
So, they spent an hour Sunday, about six hours Monday and will spend another four hours on Tuesday painting a 5 feet high by 30 feet long mural at the G Street Community Garden.
“I offered the students this chance to give back,” Powell said.
Powell also said the project cost about $1,000 and was paid for using part of a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission.
The mural is painted on the side of a cement-block building which is located on the lot directly behind the garden.
Members of Artisan Church, many of whom live on the city’s “alphabet streets,” planted the G Street Community Garden in June 2015, and have now expanded the garden from four raised beds to eight.
The 28 residents who live along the street are encouraged to pick the produce grown in the garden, said Marci Sloan, who is the garden’s manager.
Sloan’s husband, Jay, is the pastor at the Artisan Church, which meets on Market Street in Anderson. In March 2015, the Sloans bought the empty lot at 319 G Street and started recruiting help from the congregation in clearing the lot and planting the garden.
Now, the lot, which was once an acre of overgrown weeds and brush, is decorated with tables and benches and a bed of flowers. One of the raised beds is full of almost-ready-to-pick carrots, and others are planted with tomatoes, herbs and different kinds of peas.
And the mural behind it all depicts a scene of city and rural life — meant to show the character of the Anderson community.
The design for the mural was completed by the students, Powell said.
He said the students were divided up into eight groups and then Marci Sloan selected the design she liked best.
“We want this mural and the garden to be a focal point for the community,” she said. “The whole city is something for residents to be proud of. We want to make others aware of something good going on in the community here.”
Alex Irby, Ashley Kozikowski, Garrett Patterson, Rylyn Wood and Jessica Webb put together the design that was selected.
“It’s cool that our design was chosen,” said Irby, 14. “We want this to be a peaceful place.”
Image above: Southwood Academy of the Arts middle school students look at a partially painted mural on a building with teacher Joshua Powell (right) at G Street Community Park in Anderson.