Art Beyond the Walls

Teachers showcase the artwork of students through murals

Photos by Rachel Lee

Matthew Takeno 

Art teacher Matthew Takeno’s

upstairs art room houses a mural that looks eerily similar to the one in the counseling department. As the test painting before the official mural painted in the counseling office, Takeno’s AP Studio Art and Advanced Drawing and Painting students used this opportunity to test it out. This California-themed mural exhibits iconic California icons such as the Golden Gate Bridge and poppies.

“[The counseling office mural] was really big, so we wanted to try out the paint on the wall and how we’re going to get the image on the wall before we actually did the mural, so my room was the guinea pig,” Takeno said.

As a rough draft, the mural allowed the students to perfect their design before the real deal.

“[The mural] is kinda close to [the one in counseling],” Takeno said. “We did some things on my wall that we didn’t do on counseling because it didn’t work or it wouldn’t on that big of a scale.”

The mural might not be as big as the one in counseling, but it allowed the students to explore more into the world of art.

“I want students to expand on the idea of what painting is. By that I mean I want them to gain an understanding of what it’s like to paint on a large scale and to work together,” Takeno said.

Jillian Rodgers 

Unlike many teachers, art teacher Jillian Rogers’ classroom cabinets are essentially pieces of art themselves. Continuing a 

tradition started in 2015, the artwork is the culmination of creative efforts by Rogers’s AP Art Studio or AP Art History seniors. Every graduating class has painted a cabinet in the last few months of school, with the exception of the class of 2016, when 

Rogers was out on maternity leave.

“I think as art teachers, we are always looking for new ways to spruce up our classrooms and [there] isn’t a lot of wall space, but mostly cabinets,” Rogers said. “After AP exams there is nothing to do, so I was trying to find things for the students to do, sothat’s how it all started.”

The students drafted their own ideas and with the approval of Rogers beforehand, the stude

nts were able to express their artistic talents on a piece of the classroom for future students to appreciate.

“I think it’s a sort of like establishing a legacy. It’s hard in Irvine to paint walls because they’re so strict about [it], so I think finding a way for kids to connect to something on campus to feel like they have a say in their surroundings makes them feel like they’re a part of something,” Rogers said.

Frank Harrington

From Martin Luther King Jr. to the White House, the murals in United States history teacher Frank Harrington’s classroom span the realm of the U.S.’s rich history and add a creative touch to this distinctive history classroom.  

“I quote-on-quote inherited this classroom probably around seven years ago from a teacher who retired and his son painted the murals on the wall,” Harrington said.

Although Harrington received most of these paintings from the previous teacher who had occupied his current classroom, one mural in his classroom stands out as a new addition to his artistic collection.

Last year, seniors Jihyun Kim, Cathy Choi and Ashley Sun requested to paint the new mural in his classroom for their final project in Advanced Placement (AP) United States History. With the approval of Harrington, their vision transformed into a colorful historical representation.

Since Harrington aspires to showcase as many student artworks as possible, one dilemma he initially faced when deciding on the murals was the loss of creative space for other student art.  

“It’s nice to have artwork of the students, but the murals are going to stay for who knows how many years and how many students that will be able to enjoy the artwork of the past students,” Harrington said. “I appreciated the effort they put into it.”