DCP middle school students unveil murals created to reflect their dreams against a backdrop of political, economic, and social challenges.
Over the last 1.5 years, dozens of DCP El Camino Middle School students poured their hearts, their love, their anxieties and their skills into creating 3 sets of murals that now adorn their campus. Under the mentorship of DCP resident artist Carlos Rodriguez, 6th-8th grade students were engaged from start to finish. These students, ranging from blooming artists to self-conscious skeptics, designed the murals and did everything from covering the wood, spackling and sanding down the boards, and painting them by hand.
These murals represent a middle school coming of age story, with each grade level mural holding its own significance and beauty. During the unveiling, Carlos reflected on the stories told in each mural:
The 6th grade mural is “full of love and energy and creativity, they have not yet stopped believing in the wonder that is magic, they haven’t stopped believing in who they are”. Their art reflects that freedom of spirit.
The 7th grade mural illustrates how students are “starting to grow up and wake up and think about what they want do in the future, how the world has treated them, and what they feel”. And in the midst of that, how they have found love and support and nurturing at DCP.
The 8th grade mural captures an awakening to the the world. There is a lot of grief symbolism over loved ones lost and fractured relationships with parents. As they begin the journey into adulthood, Carlos reflected “They deserve so much more hope and to believe in themselves. They deserve to see the world as a non-threatening place”.
One of the most profound elements across the murals is a reclaiming of the world around them. Students infused humanity into images of technology and social media, and countered socio-political attacks against their community into images of empowerment and protest; celebrating their culture, their diversity, their dreams and their academic ambitions.
Faith Lujan, now a 9th grader who worked on the mural as an 8th grader, described the art by saying, “the protestors show that we need to stand for our rights, that we all have a voice, and that we need to use it. The drop of water is for the purity of the kids, and the wind is to blow away the extra flames that burn our dreams away.”
The young artists beamed as they shared about their experiences with the mural project, with a combination of giddy delight, pride and gratitude for their mentor. There is a shared sense of awe, that even the smallest contribution is now a testament of the times for generations of students.
These murals represent what makes our community so unique. We create safe spaces and opportunities for students to explore, take risks and engage the deepest parts of themselves as students and individuals. Our relationship with students begins in their pre-teen years and continues into adulthood. We are more than a school, we are a family.