Oakdale High School art teacher Nancy Kern, librarian Audrey Rinna, and history teacher Marty Fauria had a vision to extend the historical mural that is housed in the school library.
Now with a $700 grant from the Oakdale Educational Foundation, that vision is being translated to artistic images on approximately 61 feet of wall space.
“Almost all my 25 years (at OHS), that (mural) panel has been up there and we’ve dreamed of adding on,” Rinna said. “And Nancy just makes things happen.”
To get the project rolling, a committee was formed and everyone who was interested from students to staff were invited to attend a meeting. The group brainstormed and formulated ideas for each era. Students and faculty submitted their ideas and by filling out a ballot in the library, everyone in school who wanted to vote then chose what they felt were the top three highlights from each decade.
The new mural will pick up where the current mural leaves off, with the 1960s. The panels will include three main highlights of each decade to the present. The 1960s panel theme is “social upheaval,” the ’70s theme is “America’s bicentennial,” the ’80s theme is “end of the Cold War,” the ’90s theme is “explosion of technology,” and the 2000s theme is “counter-terrorism.”
“We wanted positive things and we had a lot of trouble with this last era,” Rinna noted, referring to 9/11 and what has followed.
The images on the panels will artistically overlap, Kern explained, so each era blends into the next.
Using the information from the ballots, Kern conferred with Fauria and Rinna and began compiling photocopied images such as Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his “I have a dream” speech, the downfall of the Berlin wall, and the Twin Towers, to name a few.
Recently, eight panels of particleboard were painted with a sealant called Gesso and on April 15, Kern started with the first rough sketches on the panels after discussing the process with a few of her students. Kern and several of her students began painting this week with acrylic mural paint. There are further plans to continue painting during finals week with the hope of finishing the mural panels before school ends.
The current mural panels originally hung in the old library and consume an entire wall in the computer area of the new library. That mural starts with the Pilgrims landing on the American shore, while the Indians watch. That blends next into the images of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary era. Next is the Civil War era, featuring slavery and President Abraham Lincoln, then that blends into the Manifest Destiny era with the “sea to shining sea” concept. Next was World War II and Iwo Jima, then the age of science with the space program and President Kennedy.
It’s unknown when the mural was done, or who the artist was, but it’s believed the mural may have been done in the 1970s.
The new mural will take up two walls and Kern said that she plans to incorporate the clock on the library wall into the mural design as well.