The appearance of Brown Elementary School‘s humble cinderblock-walled lobby recently underwent an dramatic transformation from functional-but-boring to wow, thanks to the creative skills of artist-in-resident Joe Pimentel, along with a community partnership between the school’s PTO, the Natick Education Foundation, and the Natick Cultural Council.
Add the enthusiasm of Brown’s 450+ kindergarten through 4th-grade students and the wider school community, mix in the organizational skills of visual arts educator Michelle Parven, and the results speak for themselves. Brown School now has a welcoming, vibrant, colorful mural, one that incorporated student voice and design ownership during every step of the process.
Parven found Pimentel on Instagram and was immediately impressed with his extensive experience working on similar projects. When a school partners with Pimentel on a project, the kids are fully involved from the idea phase through project completion, when it’s all hands on deck to help with the actual painting. “In October, students had a meeting over Zoom with him and then generated drawings on our theme, ‘Our School Community,'” Parven said in an email exchange with Natick Report. “He sent drafts of the design to me, and working with Brown School administrators, we made edits to come up with a final version.”
In March Pimentel traveled from his home in the bucolic Hudson Valley area of New York to spend a week making the Brown students’ vision come to life. “The students submitted over 300 drawings based on what makes their school community special,” he said. “I then took their drawings and connected them with my center mandala and patterns to make it a full collaboration. One of the main things I like to get across is to be determined on making your day dreams come true and follow your passion.”
The project was kept very much under wraps until completion, but now that pics are all over social media, we get to join in on the excitement. Enjoy these great visuals. (All photos courtesy of artist Joe Pimentel.)
The life of a traveling artist
After a few weeks at home, Pimentel will be on to his next installation, this time at Poughkeepsie High School in New York.
The Parsons School of Design graduate in 2010 took part in an artist-in-residency program in Bali, Indonesia for 3 months under the direction of artist Dewa Nyoman Batuan, who specialized in Mandala paintings. The experience of Balinese culture, coupled with the teachings of an artist who had truly mastered his craft, created a life-changing impact on Pimental’s process. Several years later he established his own business, Pimentel Murals, and built a following by first completing projects locally and then extending to other areas in New York, New Jersey and Long Island. He has completed over 100 murals to date with a wide range of themes, styles, and various degrees of involvement from students from 1st through 12th grade.
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