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Mural Brings Communities Into Focus at High School

VALLEY ROUNDUP | Woodland Hills

June 04, 1999|ART MARROQUIN

Life in the city has slowly come to life and spread across the walls of Taft High School for 13 years through "Neighborhoods of Los Angeles," a student mural project.

The communities of Venice Beach, Hollywood, downtown and parts of the Valley are highlighted in the bright mural, which has been a perennial art project at Taft since 1985. The artwork stretches 45 yards through the east hall of the school's administrative building.

A dedication ceremony held Thursday celebrated the completion of the mural. School officials now want to fill the administration building's west hall with artwork as they head into the next century.

"There's so many neighborhoods the students are familiar with that are foreign to those of us from Woodland Hills," said Kathi Martin, an art teacher at Taft for 17 years and the project's instructor.

The mural represents neighborhoods Taft's students come from. About a third of the school's 3,000 students are bused in from other parts of the city.

"It was fun working with a group of people because we really got to know each other," said Joss Kossow, 17, the project's student leader. "I hope to do it again next year. It's a good excuse to paint on the walls."

The mural comprises 7-by-12-foot panels with colorful illustrations. Before designing the mural, students visited the area they would paint, took photographs and drew sketches of what they saw. The school paid for the $250 yearly cost of supplies.

"I feel like I left my mark at the school," said senior Nick Yeagley, 18. "It's like leaving a memory behind for future classes to see."

The students worked on the mural during their third-period art class and after school.

The scenes include Pierce College's dairy farm in Woodland Hills, bustling traffic in downtown Los Angeles and demolished buildings from the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

This year, the art students are painting a view of the Earth as seen from space. A large hand holds a magnifying glass that is focused on the city.

Sarah Lightboun, 17, worked on the project in her freshman and sophomore years, but took this year off. She hopes to return to the project in her senior year.

"The mural is like a birthday cake," said Lightboun, a junior. "Everyone shares it and enjoys it. It's something beautiful to take in."

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