By Melissa Wharton
Following last year’s completion of the Scarritt Elementary murals, artist Hector Casanova and his Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) students are installing more at Whittier Elementary.
Just like with the Scarritt murals, Casanova’s students are designing and creating art boards to install at Whittier. As of now, the students are roughly halfway done with the project, and the results can be seen along a retaining wall to the north of the school’s eastern entrance.
On Wednesday, October 18, the KCAI students traveled to Whittier to do touch-up on the boards that have already been installed. The first set of murals were damaged in transportation and installation due to varnish that hadn’t dried. While they were there, Casanova and his students interviewed Whittier students to derive inspiration for the second half of the mural project. The children were divided up into groups based on their continent of heritage and asked for input based on their cultural experiences.
One elementary student, after being interviewed and photographed, asked, “Are we famous?”
Students from Asia mentioned elephant parades, water festivals, and the Lunar New Year celebration. North American students suggested a mural of what schools were like prior to technology, adding their futuristic visions of schools that included flying cars and space ships.
Latin American students explained Día de Los Muertos, when they celebrate the lives of lost loved ones. African students talked about Eid, Ramadan, and other holidays that are celebrated with barbecues in the park.
Casanova’s KCAI students will be coming back in the next few weeks to continue retouching the installed art boards, and the second round of murals inspired by the student responses are expected to be finished later this semester.