“This mural will transform our school, and bring beauty to students who need this inspiration the most,” says Dr. Gordon Grant, Principal of Hall Fletcher Elementary.
Dr. Grant is referring to the paint and ceramic mural installation that spans the length of the school building that is currently underway and will be completed this month. The Hall Fletcher Mural project is the result of a community collaboration led by the Asheville City Schools Foundation, the ‘Roots + Wings Community Design Lab’ (RWDL), artists Alex Irvine (ceramics) and Ian Wilkinson (painter) and the students and staff of the school.
The mural will be dedicated at a public ceremony on June 4 at 1PM when students and community leaders talk about what this project means to the community and children.
It is surprising to many to learn that there is a wide disparity in the percent of students living in poverty among our local schools. Hall Fletcher Elementary has long been one of the poorest schools in Buncombe County with more than 80% of the students served by the free and reduced lunch program.
As part of an effort to uplift these students, and support this staff, the community has rallied with one of the most ambitious transformation projects in the region. Staff and neighborhood community members have been talking for more than five years about how to best enhance the school and communicate the value of each of these students.
“This project aligns two things that we care about deeply – increasing equity by investing in the schools and classrooms with the highest poverty and keeping arts education in our schools.” says Kate Pett, executive director of the Asheville City Schools Foundation.
The Asheville City Schools Foundation helped connect the school to funding resources and great local artists and organizations that could bring the project to life. In addition to generous donations to the Foundation, this project was supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The mural has been a teaching tool – artists Ian Wilkinson and Alex Irvine spent a month in classrooms with fourth-grade students who helped design the work. Students learned about elements of design, painting and tiling, and actually created hundreds of tiles that appear on the walls of the building now.