On a busy corner in downtown Arcata, redwood trees are sprouting from the sidewalk, foxes cavort, and a blue whale soars overhead.
Redwood Coast Montessori High School students are in the middle of painting a huge new mural at the corner of 8th and K Street in Arcata. The mural celebrates the North Coast, and is a collaboration with Cal Poly Humboldt students and the community.
Sasha Lyth, an art instructor at Redwood Coast Montessori, initially envisioned decorating just one corner of the building’s wall. But after discussions with the building owner, the scope of the mural expanded to the full wall, 127 wide and about 20 feet tall.
Lyth and her student teacher, Caroline Voorhees, who’s earning a teaching credential through Humboldt, gathered ideas to create the mural.
“We've had an amazing amount of student involvement in designing the mural,” says Lyth. We worked with the entire school to come up with broad themes and what we wanted to reflect.”
They settled on local landmarks and flora and fauna of the North Coast, and students submitted a wide collection of drawings, which Lyth and Voorhees combined into one design for the wall.
Around the beginning of the year, three Art Education students from Humboldt connected with Lyth to complete their senior project—an eight-week curriculum with Redwood Coast Montessori students to build artistic concepts, skills, and help them complete the mural. With help from Art professor Jim Woglom and Art technician Jim Woodhead, the team projected the mural design onto the wall and students and families worked late into the night tracing the design.
After the completion of the curriculum, the rest of the Humboldt Art Education class began to visit the mural on painting days to help finish it before the end of the Redwood Coast Montessori semester in June. They’ve also had some community painting days, and are anticipating holding more before summer break.
The public is invited to join Redwood Montessori students and faculty for public paint days on Saturday, May 13 and Saturday, May 20. A Mural Unveiling Party for Friday, June 9 during Arts Arcata (6-9 p.m.), will include a student craft fair, the Los Giles Taco Truck, and music by the Redwood Coast Chorus and The Vanishing Pints.