PITTSFIELD — A winged high-top sneaker, a blazing basketball, a bolt of lightning — these are some of the personal emblems the teenagers of the Student Resource Center incorporated into a new mural unveiled Wednesday morning in the hallway of the alternative education program.
This is the second mural created by students with the support of artists and educators of the Norman Rockwell Museum. Staff and guests were also entertained by a pair of students performing a song on ukulele, led by local musician Robin O'Herin, as part of a new partnership this year formed with Berkshire Music School.
A 16-year-old student named Kassie participated for the second year in the mural project. She said she likes it because, "It gives me a chance to define who I am, and we get to make the school how we want it."
She chose to paint a tube of hot pink lipstick and lips to match on the wall, "because I like bright things, bright colors."
Indeed, the addition of the two murals have brightened the walls of the windowless basement-level center.
Student Resource Center Director Dave Kubicki said that through grant funding, the program is trying to build more community partnerships to expand arts and experiential education opportunities to students, and offer creative outlets to balance their academic programs.
"There are a lot of students here who don't otherwise get a chance to participate in things like art or learn to play ukulele or the guitar. This is a nice break for them," he said.
Eighteen-year-old Josh calls the program, "magnificent."
Fifteen-year-old Shaleik and 17-year-old Alix had never played musical instruments before O'Herin taught them how. Alix said it's made him more interested in learning to play guitar, while Shaleik said he enjoyed being able to work with words when he wrote two verses of the "Worrisome Blues" song they performed.
Fifteen-year-old Kemetree painted a winged sneaker with a halo above it on the wall. He even got inspired to submit an original painting of his to the Norman Rockwell Museum's 30th annual High School Art Show, which opens next week. Kemetree's contribution marks the first time the SRC will be represented in the show.
The Student Resource Center arts program is introduced to all students and participation is then optional.
Wednesday's presentation marked the culmination of a 10-week program, with artists and musicians visiting the school once a week for about an hour. About eight students participated.
The SRC also partners with the Pittsfield branch of the Berkshire Family YMCA, where teens go three times a week. This fall, interested students got to make weekly visits to the Berkshire HorseWorks program at the Berkshire Equestrian Center in Richmond.
Norman Rockwell Museum artist-in-residence Pat O'Donnell, who coached students through the mural with Amy LeFebvre, say he was impressed to see how students went from being initially uninterested and "grow to a level of pride and ownership."
Asked what he added to the mural, Shaleik's brother, 18-year-old Shalille, said, "That's my heart on the wall, let's just say that."