Tuesday, March 14, 2017

John Grant students upgrade ‘prison gray’ walls with mural

By Isaac Olson
John Grant High School teacher Marie Francis decided it was time to upgrade the institute’s “prison gray” walls and, with the help of a student teacher, 21 students and a professional muralist, she did just that.

Now there is a colourful wall mural on the third floor, decorating doors and lockers from floor to ceiling with an aboriginal theme. It measures about 40 feet in length.

Cynthia Cousineau, a Concordia University student, has been working at John Grant High School since December, offering art classes. Francis is the music teacher and, while there isn’t permanent art programming, Cousineau, 25, has been serving as an art teacher for her internship. Francis applied for and was awarded a schools and culture grant. Cousineau lead the project.

Cynthia Cousineau works on the wall mural on February 22. Photo: Isaac Olson
Marcio Melo, a Brazillian artist living in Quebec, was brought in for a three-day workshop from February 13 to 15. The professional muralists taught the students about mural art and helped get the project started by providing much of the base artwork.

From there, the students added in their own details and Counsineau, by February 22, was putting on the finishing touches with colourful phoenix and peacock designs. The hope, she said, is to eventually do the entire corridor. Students that worked on the project vary between 12 and 21 years old.
“They basically painted their own section,” she said, noting the first day was spent designing the actual project and “the next two days we painted it.”

Rebecca, a 15-year-old student, was surprised to learn she had some artistic talent.

“I don’t really draw,” she said. “Doing art is not really a thing for me. But once I did, I felt I really enjoyed it. I looked at the finished project and I was like ‘wow, I should do more art.’”
Vanessa, age 16, found the project “pretty awesome.” She has done other wall art in the school as she has always been interested in drawing.

John Grant is an English Montreal School Board (EMSB) high school for students with mild to severe intellectual disabilities.

Cynthia Cousineau (front left) and Marie Francis (front right) with mural-painting students from John Grant High School on February 22.  Photo: Isaac Olson


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