Project ARTiculate is an arts integrated cross-curricular mural program developed by Side x Side to strategically serve youth across all three Portland middle schools during a pivotal developmental time. Creating site-based murals provides an opportunity for students to acquire and demonstrate the 21st Century skills of collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking while addressing core content, leadership, student empowerment, and school culture. This program was funded through generous grants from the Lennox, Horizon, and Cabin Foundations and made possible by Side x Side teaching artists Laurie Downey and Ryan Adams.
During the 2019-2020 school year, seventh graders at King Middle School collaborated with Side x Side teaching artist Laurie Downey to create a mural during a “Pathway to the Plate and Beyond” expedition. Using Project Journals to gather written and visual information, students conducted research on how we grow and transport food. They met with local organizations involved in food security, composting, and community gardens to follow food beyond the plate, and conducted an extensive study of plate waste at their school. Each student contributed to the mural by transferring research, drawings, and text onto the mural panels, resulting in an informative art piece installed in the cafeteria that addresses our food systems, consumption, and waste.
Eighth graders at Lyman Moore Middle School participated in a mural program addressing the questions, “Who am I? Who are we?” Students used writing, poetry, and design to explore what it means to be an individual and a member of the school community. Led by Side x Side teaching artist Ryan Adams, students learned about street art and community engagement. Combining the expertise of a professional artist with class comments, public messaging, and creative writing, they produced a collaborative mural for the entryway of the school illustrating the culture and inclusivity at Lyman Moore Middle School, a welcoming legacy by the eighth grade class.
Seventh graders at Lincoln Middle School participated in a program led by Side x Side teaching artist Laurie Downey, integrating art into their science unit. Students used Project Journals, a method of visual research, to record data on species diversity in birds, arthropods, and mollusks. They learned key observational drawing techniques while using local taxidermy mounts on loan from Maine Audubon highlighting necessary survival adaptations. Although disrupted by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and resulting school closures, Laurie Downey was able to pivot to remote learning by creating digital mock-ups for the mural using student journal entries.