By Isabela Supovitz-Aznar and DeShawn McLeod
The idea began with Spanish Teacher Melanie Manual’s Spanish four class doing a unit on public art, and English and History Teacher Josh Block’s classes unit pertaining to language identity.
Being inspired by the Inside Out Project, founded by street artist JR, Ms. Manuel, Mr. Block, and many students collaborated recently to put together a street art project on the JFK bridge walls of 22nd street — between the school and neighboring grocery store Trader Joe’s.
The concept of the project is to tell a story of SLA’s culture thorough black and white portraits. The mural is made up of many pictures of students from SLA making very expressive faces, along with quotes from Mr. Block’s language identity unit.
The pictures were taken at a very close range, which is meant to give the viewer a feeling of invasion, that they are entering the subject’s perspective of the world, or see them in a new light.
“It was an experience,” Sophomore Dejah Harley stated. “Putting it up made me realize that every one’s different, and people have their own ways of thinking and their own personalities.”
The process to get permission to put the mural up was easier than the collaborating teachers expected.
“I thought it’d be complicated to get the permissions to do our mural,” said Ms. Manuel.
But after a few hours of calling PennDOT and trying to get the necessary city permit papers, they got a call indicating that it’d be perfectly fine to put up the huge images of students under the bridge.
“It was super easy in the end,” Mr. Block commented, “we just needed to call up for permission then we found out we had to call the right person.”
The posters were put up after school on Feb.16th by student and teacher volunteers.
“It was a cold day, especially under the bridge,” said Mr. Block. However, the weather did not stop the dedicated workers.
The large photographs also have quotes underneath them that are from Mr. Block’s students’ language autobiographies. The photos were taken by Sophomores Helen Kilmartin and Isabela Aznar.
The public reaction has been powerful.
Science Teacher Stephanie Dunda appreciated the quote from Sophomore Roberto Abazoski. “I was touched and moved to learn something so personal about my student through a piece of art,” she said.