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Students work on the mural.
Visiting artist leads students in Hood mural posted on 05/02/2017

Christian Barrios, an artist who works in various mediums including marquetry (wood), murals, recycled materials and more, grew up in Mexico City, where he was first introduced to art by painting ceramics his grandfather made. Today he helps bring art into classrooms all around Portland through the Right Brain Initiative, an arts integration to help students link learning from one area to others, and he still appreciates how the young artists approach things and visualize their work.

“That’s why I like to work with kids, they have their own idea of work,” Barrios said.

Barrios came to the Welches Schools to lead students in creating a mural of Mount Hood, utilizing a variety of techniques and recycled materials for the final product. At first, Barrios introduced students to his favorite arts and lead them in a one-line drawing, like those of Pablo Picasso. From there, each student created a painting of their own with simple lines, which Barrios took parts of and created a larger picture of Mount Hood.

That image was then projected on wood, with students transferring the image over with chalk. From there, Barrios planned on lightening it up, gluing on a variety of painted bottle caps and finishing it with a layer of epoxy. The mural is expected to be hung in the school’s gym.

Barrios noted that the project allows for a discussion on ecosystems and nature, particularly how to take care of it and the importance of recycling.

Second grader Olin Taylor offered another valuable lesson he learned during the project regarding the number of artists involved.

“That you might need to make a team effort to make it good,” said Taylor, 8. “I think it’s a very interesting piece, I’m curious to see how it works out.”

Taylor’s classmate, Addy Kolibaba, already thought the mural was coming along, despite that there were still work left to be done.

“I just like all of the colors and everything,” said Kolibaba, 8.

Their teacher, Dan Winans, noted that the project comes at a good time during the school year, helping to break up the routine and offering something fresh.

He also noted that Barrios has lead the students in other activities that help them get thinking in other ways, including having groups of students get up and perform a sentence and creating tableaus.

“It’s invigorating,” said Winans, who has been teaching at Welches for 19 years.

Barrios noted that one of the biggest lessons with the project is when students get to realize that they can create art, whether it’s the one-line drawing or a mural of Mount Hood that will be on the gym wall for years to come. And for second grader Autumn Haney, that message has already gotten through.

“Don’t give up on yourself, especially when you’re not good at it, so you get more out of life,” said Haney, 8.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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