I had the honour of working with the students and staff of Homesteader School last week as we created a huge school mural. Luckily, the school has some unique architectural quirks and Mrs. Armstrong (the Principal) immediately saw the possibilities.

In order to allow every student to add something, we cut all the facets of the mural into pieces and every student got their own ’tile’.

This is somewhat in the spirit of Lewis Lavoie’s very cool mural mosaic paintings but with a twist: the kids could paint any way they wanted. There were guidelines, but really, we just wanted them to have fun and be successful no matter what. Sort of an intentional experiment in utter chaos.

Local artist Nick Johnson (Smokey) helped me install it this afternoon. We’re 99% complete. Nick is the same guy who was lead tech on the Grandin Station mural and I value his conscientious approach to materials, workmanship and installation.

I have to say, the staff at Homesteader made me feel very welcome and it was a delight to work with their classes. The kids, of course, were awesome! :)

The mural itself depicts a rising Thunderbird, offering protection to those who walk the halls of the school. It reminds the students that everyone is different and that we need those differences. Thunderbird spurs us to action and leaves new life in it’s wake. The colours reference the school colours of Homesteader.

During our time together, I was happy to be able to tell oral stories and play music for the students and hopefully ignite their imaginations and joy of learning.

When we finished installing today, the kids gathered round, necks craned as they searched out their contributions to the piece. There was a lot of excitement and conversation! Even some staff and parents got involved. It was awesome.

A little left to go, but it’s been a real treat.

Thanks, Homesteader!

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Aaron Paquette is a First Nations Metis artist, author and speaker. Based in Edmonton, Aberta, his first YA Novel ‘Lightfinder‘ comes out in May 2014 through Kegedonce Press.

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