School murals show an array of art styles

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Cubism. Pointillism. Post-Impressionism. Pop art.

Those are some of the periods the 10 murals painted by seven juniors and seniors at IN-Tech Academy (M.S./H.S 368) cover. The art is displayed along the wall leading to the school’s auditorium.

Art teacher Beniel Santiago—or “Santi,” as his students call him—created the project for the afterschool beautification program and invited some of his former students to take part.

The 3-foot by 5-foot murals are “touching up on different time periods in the arts and incorporating different subjects in the arts such as music, history, style in the arts,” Santiago said. The students started work in October and were putting finishing touches on their work last week. They created an array of paintings, many imitating works by artists such as Piet Mondrian and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, among others.

“How many dots do you think are in there?” Patrcia Garita, a senior, said about the mural she painted of the Eiffel Tower using the pointillism method. She estimated that nearly 100,000 dots that she smeared slightly with her paint brush went into making her piece.

“The thing about art that I like is that it’s kind of an escape. You don’t feel like you [are] in school or after school. It’s something you’re doing and something you love doing,” she said about her favorite part of taking part in the project.

Chasiti Martinez, a junior, used vibrant colors such as red, yellow and bright blue, to paint a pop art mural inspired by the 1950s.

“I like comic books and, so, this was like a pop art comic book theme and this one I got to work on it myself. I got to choose the colors and everything,” said Martinez. “We chose a female and she’s playing the violin because it’s right before the auditorium. So, we wanted to focus it on music and that’s why we have a [musical] score in the back. ‘The Arts’ is just the words to emphasize pop art.”

Working with Santiago, “teaches us how to advance what we already know as an artist,” she said, adding: “I can build on myself as a person and as an artist.”

Alexander Acevedo, a senior, painted a replica of art found on ancient Greek pottery and a copy of Vincent Van Gough’s “Sunflowers.”

“At first I thought the first one was a piece of cake,” Acevedo said. “It got hard to match the paints when you ran out of paints. The shades were all different. I had to keep the strokes fluent… Every time I ran out of paint, I had to make a new batch of red, browns and blacks and whites and it became kind of difficult. But, in the end, since it’s supposed to mimic a pottery piece, I feel like it gave it that texture that Santi and I were looking for.”

Mariyam Mohammed, a senior, joined the project because she “wanted to leave something in the school” ahead of her graduation this year, she said. Egyptian art was the inspiration for her mural.

“Leaving something I did behind in the school, which will be here for a long time, is just great,” she said.

But her favorite part of the project was getting to know her classmates, she said. “I am not one to socialize that much, but working with these people and [knowing] that these people do paint—that—I didn’t know—that was great.”

Students used acrylic paint on cork board, which they primed in white. For some of their colors, the mixed acrylic paint with tempera paint. After they finish the murals, students will add a clear coat of varnish to protect the art from the sunlight that streams into the building, Santiago said.

“My favorite part is seeing it come to fruition,” he said. “I was just telling the students yesterday, ‘Wow, it was amazing to see when we primed every board in white and we start systematically creating the pencil work and making sure the art works were in symmetry and then applying the colors, picking out the palette. It was good for the students to learn that.”

He said he hopes to continue the school beautification project next year.

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