As local students start a new school year, kids at Cleveland’s Campus International School (CIS) will be greeted by two new large murals by local artists in the school’s Chester Avenue building.
"Creating an environment where children want to come every day is a priority at Campus International,” says CIS Principal Julie Beers. “The murals create a welcoming feel while capturing the spirit of who we are. As an IB school, we strive to foster international mindedness while taking action in our community and the artwork reflects that. We encourage our students to explore and both murals so perfectly captured that spirit. I have loved seeing the faces of the parents and students as they walk in the school and see the murals. Their faces light up and then I hear great conversations about the landmarks illustrated from around the world.“
The murals are the result of a collaborative effort this summer between CIS and Graffiti HeArt, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to using art to inspire and enrich the community.
“Having the chance to collaborate with the Cleveland Public Schools to provide color to their walls through local artists is one of Graffiti HeArt's top initatives, and we are thrilled," says Graffiti HeArt founder and President Stamy Paul. "We were fortunate enough to be able to send two students from Ohio and Pennsylvania to Cleveland Institute of Art's Pre-College program this summer as well.”
Cleveland State University’s Department of Urban Education sponsored the project, which makes sense — Campus International School’s Chester building is located on CSU’s campus. The CIS murals were created by local artists Bob Peck and Garrett Weider. Both artists worked with Graffiti HeArt for its inaugural event at the Gay Games last summer.
Bob Peck’s mural challenges the students to aspire and explore, with images of Earth (without artificial, man-made borders), a space station, a glimpse into infinite space and densely packed galaxies. The imagery encourages viewers to search, investigate and discover.
“Graffiti Heart contacted me with a plan to create a mural with the theme of ‘being global’ in mind,” explains Peck. “Coming at it from a graffiti standpoint, I knew that I wanted to use the word ‘global’ as a focal point. As I started the initial drawing, I thought about what landmarks I'd use to express this idea. By the time I finished the lettering, I had begun to think outside of the box...or sphere, as it were. The finished sketch sat next to a planet Earth floating in space with a space station in its orbit. In the end, we went with the word ‘explore’ as the graffiti, which I think is a great fit! Alongside the view of Earth from space and the space station, there's a whole cosmic background featuring spiral galaxies and cosmic imagery throughout.”
He reflects, “As a child, I loved the idea of traveling around the planet one day and seeing distant lands, but what I really wanted to see was what was beyond our landscapes. I wanted to know what was out in the stars. Thinking back to that really inspired the final piece and I hope that my mural in turn will inspire kids in the school to think about not only their planet as a whole, but what's beyond it as well.”
Garrett Weider’s massive cityscape scene envokes the “International” in Campus International School. The mural features iconic Cleveland buildings with landmarks from across the U.S. and around the world.
“It was a very cool project and the largest paste up city scene I've done to date! I've done all kinds of cities, even some mash ups of various cities before so this was a perfect match. CIS wanted a global vibe to things, so it was only logical I have Cleveland buildings in there, but add other iconic buildings from around the world: the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Taj Mahal, Seattle’s Space Needle, the Statue of Liberty, a bit of Venice in there and more. I intended for the scale and bright colors to really pop and have an impact when you walk into the space.”
So what do the students have to say about the new improvements to their campus?
"Our old wall made me nervous, our new wall makes me feel creative," says 4th grader Trinity W.,
"Before the mural, the walls made me feel trapped, now the new walls make me feel free," adds classmate Mikalia E.
CIS and Graffiti HeArt will host a special dedication ceremony this Monday, Aug. 31 at 8:30 a.m. During the event, students will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the murals with the artists.
"When the opportunity came along to commission Graffiti HeArt to produce these two murals at Campus International School, I knew it was a win-win for everyone,” says Justin Perry, director of CSU’s Center for Urban Education. “The brilliant artwork displayed at the school is a natural symbol of what CIS stands for in its partnership with Cleveland State University. Students at CIS are growing citizens of the world who are encouraged to be creative thinkers and explore new ideas. The CIS community could not have asked for a more visually stunning embodiment of that mission imprinted on its walls."