A barren wall that was transformed into a tribute to explorers past, present and future was unveiled Thursday at Christopher Columbus Middle School.
The 125-foot mural--created with vibrant acrylics--was designed by artist Susan Bennett with help from art teacher Carol Barham and about 30 students, including some from the school's special education program.
Beginning with a sailing ship, the mural depicts the school's namesake, a covered wagon, kids exploring with a microscope, an image of Albert Einstein, a futuristic city, a rocket and a space car drawn by 13-year-old student Sergio Rodriguez.
It was the first outdoor mural Barham had ever done and the first time she'd worked side by side with budding artists. Teachers said that aside from learning artistic techniques, the students benefited from the sense of satisfaction they received.
"When the school's paint sprayer broke, they pitched in and even did the priming so they got to see a project from start to finish," said Bennett, a Woodland Hills resident.
The Valley Cultural Center arranged for the mural by securing a $10,000 grant from the city's Cultural Affairs Department, said Lulu Kamatoy, chairwoman of the center's Community Outreach Committee. The center sponsored three other "artist in residence" programs this year at Valley schools, including one featuring a West African drummer who worked with children.