By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
An array of murals will soon adorn the walls of Amvet Boulevard School, and one can find ideas from the students in the colorful designs.
Done by South Boston artist Bren Bataclan, the five murals incorporate the school’s BARK behavioral expectations. BARK stands for Be Respectful, Act Responsibly, Remember Safety, and Kindness Matters. The program was introduced earlier this year, and children are rewarded for utilizing it. The murals also used Buster the Bulldog—the school’s new mascot—in a number of ways, from male and female versions, to other animal designs.
Amvet Principal Kristine Kefor said the school’s Enrichment Committee is always seeking new opportunities for students, and past examples include musician visiting the school. She worked in another district that had hired Bataclan and thought he’d be a perfect fit. She said this new project, supported by the school’s PTO, will leave a permanent change at Amvet.
“I saw his impact and how the children responded to his positive energy and his message of smiling,” said Kefor.
Bataclan spoke to the students in assemblies and then began work on the murals. The students also got the chance to make their own artwork based on his, and the works are on the walls of the hallways. Bataclan has been working as an artist for 18 years, making murals for local schools but also working in New York, Idaho, and Georgia. His style is based in part on Japanese animation and Bataclan said it’s easy to replicate, as was seen in the Amvet students’ work. Kefor said that the effect has been immediate, as children stop in the hall to view the work and speak with the artist.
“This is something the kids will remember,” she said.
In South Boston, Bataclan runs his studio and parents sometimes visit with their children. He knows it can be hard to make a living through art, and some of his friends need a second job to support their careers. But still, he always encourages kids to pursue it.
“They’re (the parents) thinking that I would give them a scare tactic like ‘you’re gonna starve,’” he said. “That’s the complete opposite (of what I say).”
Bataclan’s residency at Amvet ran the week of Dec. 13. His five murals use bright colors like green, red, and blue. He said that the students’ ideas—incorporating a construction hat to represent safety or a dog bone with the word BARK on it—were so good that he used them in his own work.
“The kids’ artwork becomes part of the history and legacy permanently,” he said.