by Brianna Rae
This Tuesday, Lake View Elementary School on the North Side of Madison celebrated a new community mural with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held by school officials, community members, and local organizations who supported the effort.
On what was once a blank cement wall, local Madison artist Henry Hawkins created a visual chronology of public education and the evolving community of Lake View Elementary. The mural represents the diversity, cultures, and images of the individual lives and families that make up the community.
To get a sense of the people and environment he was to portray, Hawkins spent a lot of time talking with residents and families about what the community meant to them. “I was fascinated by the community itself,” he said. “I loved the things it was doing.” The school has made an impressive amount of developments that have created a positive and stimulating environment in which students can flourish. A community garden is one such development, which is depicted on the mural.
“One of the most important things to me is community, and from that springs everything else. Education is also really important — through learning we learn to maximize ourself so we can help each other,” said Hawkins.
The mural, in addition to helping to beautify the school, is something in which the students, teachers, and larger community can see themselves, their work, and their love reflected, and fosters a sense of community pride.
“Funding for the arts is critical for the strength of our community,” a member of Dane Arts said. It’s also critical to a sense of cohesion and mutual support. The heartfelt ribbon-cutting elicited tears from some of the audience members, and was closed with a performance of the school song by the students.
Hawkins felt grateful for the experience to get to know and represent a community. “Thanks for the love that people have given me and the support while I worked. It kept me going,” he concluded.
Lake View Elementary gives a special thanks to all individual donors, local businesses, idea makers, the Madison Metropolitan School District, Dane Arts, the WI Arts Council, Madison Arts Commission, WI Environmental Educational Board, Madison Community Foundation, Children’s Fund, and Community Groundworks.