Spring means color, and in more ways than one. To help bring some color to Norwood Young America, one of the high school art teachers has come with a plan: having her classes paint the new underpass. This will be a long-term project, taking at least two springs to complete, and with the students highlighting their love of the community in doing so.

“It’s a spring project for each year is the plan, and will be worked into the curriculum,” said Ashley Williams, art teacher for Central High School. “I want it to be something they are proud of.”

The idea came from Williams wanting the students to have more projects out in the community. While many rooms in the school feature student projects, it’s difficult to see how much effort they put in unless someone is regularly at the school. So, to make them more visible, she came up with the idea of having the students paint a mural.

With the underpass complete, and everything approved by the city and school board, it will now serve as a canvas. It’s not just because it’s blank, either. The underpass itself, while for everyone, really benefits students living on the opposite side of 212. They can now walk to school if they live within the radius safely, so having students paint it not only highlights them to the community, but also their peers.

The way painting the underpass will work is fairly simple. Instead of being one long piece of concrete, the pass is tiled with six-by-six blocks. Students will form groups of four to five to paint a single tile. While what they paint is up to the students, there are some criteria. For the assignment itself, the students have to paint something about the community, whether that’s history, current events, or anything they wish to highlight.

Students aren’t just painting pretty pictures, though. Because the underpass is city property, they have to submit their idea to the council for approval, just like any other artist.

“It’s definitely a long-term project that students will be working on all spring,” said Williams.

And she’s not kidding about long-term. Part of the challenge with this project is the fact that the students and Williams are subject to the weather, though not in a way most would expect. Because the underpass is, well, underground, rain isn’t an issue, but cold is. If the concrete is too cold, it can’t be painted on. So the students will have a brief few weeks to try and paint their idea just before the school year gets out, so long as it continues to warm up.

This means that while the planning process is already starting, painting likely won’t begin until May. Even then, it will likely take several weeks to complete. However, students are excited to get started, and already know what they’re working with, according to Williams.

On the city’s part, once a tile is complete, it will be coated with graffiti-resistant material. This means that if someone gets any ideas, the mural can be cleaned without ruining the work. If someone tags a mural mid-painting, that can be painted over.

All in all, NYA will be seeing some new artwork popping up every spring for a two to three years in the underpass. Be sure to thank the students and Williams for their hard work through this project, and remember to avoid touching wet paint.

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