The mural was part of the ongoing Singing Tree Project, which seeks to build a positive vision for communities through art projects by creating tree murals with individual themes like teaching for sustainable communities, social imagination, and strengthening the community. An eight-year-old child’s vision for the whole world to create a painting together inspired the Singing Tree Project, and since then the idea has spread to other countries and schools around the world as a way to promote peace through art.
The tree in the Ukiah High mural is called the Manzanita Singing Tree of Kindness and represents what the need for the community to recognize and improve upon the kindness they show to others. The Ukiah High Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) students came up with and helped create the theme of demonstrating public acts of kindness within the school and community during one of their class days. Marshall and around 50 students spent the remaining three class days brainstorming and coming up with ideas for the mural and what individual messages to put on the leaves of each tree.
The idea for bringing the mural project to Ukiah began when UHS teacher Eveline Rodriguez met with artist Laurie Marshall at an SSU teaching program in the summer, where they talked about the project and the possibility of Marshall helping create it with the students. With the help of funding from the Ukiah school district, the students gained inspiration from local artist Kate Seredy’s story of a World War I battle where soldiers escaped and found a single tree with birds singing together.
To help celebrate the new mural, the Ukiah High Choir sang songs of kindness, while students who were a part of the project read poetry and spoke about the effect of kindness in their lives. Many students who spoke said seeing small acts of kindness in their lives helped them commit to change the world and what they did in it. Marshall said that the mural helped them realize what they wanted to see and experience kindness within their community, as many students at times feel there is too much isolation.
“I loved how it was both an acknowledgment of both the beauty and creativity of the mural we made together and the focus on what kindness means, and that’s a way to change a culture to make the challenges into something that’s creative and beautiful,” said Marshall.
By Curtis Driscoll | firstname.lastname@example.org |
PUBLISHED: May 5, 2018 at 12:00 am | UPDATED: August 23, 2018 at 12:00 am (used with permission)