“Since my friends were doing it I decided it was a good time to try,” the eighth-grader said. Yesterday, students at the school unveiled a mural they created in the outdoor classroom created through the new Art and Creative Club. The idea for the project sprouted from science teacher John Bartlett and spread through Nancy Suttles, creative director and volunteer. Suttles, who is the arts coordinator at the Alpharetta Arts Center, helped facilitate the project and worked to bring all the parts together.
The outdoor classroom is now adorned with mini-murals along the wall emulating seed packets.
“Every student put their personality into their panel,” said Maureen Engle, the local art instructor who led the children in the project.
Although each panel is different, they all work together to provide a unified feel throughout the mural.
“They’re unique but they all blend together and it looks really good,” she said. The Art and Creative Club was the first after school program supported by the Monfort’s Education Fund for Youth Art, and Ray Hoyum, chairman and CEO for the fund, said he hopes to bring more of these programs to schools across the state and eventually the country at little to no cost to the students.
“This program here at Northwestern Middle School is an exciting pilot project for us,” he said. “We want to expand using this sort of a model where we involved the whole school and the community in getting support for these kinds of after school programs.”
Ray and Miriam Hoyum established the Monfort’s Fine Art Galleries nine years ago, and after that saw a need for assisting young artists. Since then, they founded the Monfort’s Fund to support performing and visual art programs in elementary, middle and high schools as well as providing scholarships, apprenticeships and internships for young artists.
The fund raised $250 scholarships for each of the Northwestern students who participated in the Art and Creative Club for this project through local art patrons and businesses, and Hoyum said he hoped this was just a starting point for this type of funding for young artists.
“I hope that we can look back in two years and say that it started right here,” he said.