Mural Muse

Artists and organizers of the Generations of Hope Mural pose with Richmond District Supervisor Sandra Fewer during the mural’s unveiling celebration on September 28, 2018.   By: Nivedita Ojha

Artists and organizers of the Generations of Hope Mural pose with Richmond District Supervisor Sandra Fewer during the mural’s unveiling celebration on September 28, 2018.

By: Nivedita Ojha

Frank McCoppin Elementary School will be celebrating on September 28,, 2018 the unveiling of a brand new commissioned mural, officially titled the Generations of Hope mural, by artists Erin Yoshi and Franceska Gamez. This is the first public mural commissioned by Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) in partnership with the school and Richmond residents. The mural was completed in July 2018.

The community workshop process to envision this Mural happened almost a year ago at the AAWAA Studio at 1890 Bryant Street Studios, in the Mission District. It started with a few AAWAA member artists getting together with Erin and Franceska to plan the Mural.

This was the first time I was involved with an art project at this scale.

The whole planning process of a Mural is no different than planning and brainstorming for a product or product offering in the world of technology or business. One Sunday afternoon 3 hrs was assigned towards a “Mural Workshop”.

Prior to the actual workshop, the subject was predefined – in this case the “Influence of Asian American women artists in the city of San Francisco”. All the artists involved with AAWAA were asked to submit their artwork – something that Erin and Franceska would use as inspiration for the color pallette and style.

The workshop kicked-off with focusing on the subject because the end goal was to define themes that captured the essence of this subject. We started with an open forum/discussion on what this subject meant to everyone involved with AAWAA – new or old to this institution. That gave us the first set of words and inspiration. We wrote them on sticky notes. We discussed each word and grouped similar words together under a category. This was no different from when we define products and we collect similar ideas under a single umbrella.

Then we broke the group in teams of 3. Each team was given a category and was further asked to refine the words into probable concepts that relate to the category and subject. At the end of the session – each team was to present their idea. As a single group we prioritized the concepts.

Prior to Erin and Franceska taking all the concepts and ideas, they introduced another dimension to developing the Mural. They played a game of find and define – where the teams were asked to pick random objects from a bag and used them to work it into the subject, and come up with another set of themes. Once again we prioritized themes and came with a single set of concepts and priority. Based on all the concepts and ideas that were generated that day – it gave the start to the Mural that was further refined by more workshops with the school, the students and their families, the teachers, and the Richmond neighborhood.

This workshop was a great eye opener for me. As schools today are cutting down funding their arts programs, it became very clear – for students that do not excel in team sports, art programs that help with team building akin to the Mural Workshop become very important. Even with all the social media in the world, eventually everyone needs to work in teams at a workplace or with other members to ensure we have safe and healthy communities. The investment made by Frank McCoppin Elementary School is more than just addition to San Francisco’s arts and culture, it’s about the right development for the next generation.

Originally published on LinkedIn and Medium on September 25, 2018.

David Iskander