On October 19, 2013 for New York Cares Day, a bunch of volunteers got together to paint a mural at P.S. 214 in Brooklyn.
I asked the school if I could design the mural, and amazingly they said yes! I’ve never painted a mural before. Actually, I’ve never painted anything bigger than 9” x 12”, doing something in this scale was something I’ve always wanted to do.
The theme they gave me was “Forest”. Since it was such a broad theme, I decided to give myself a story line, just so I could narrow down what I wanted to sketch. At first I started sketching jungle animals (tigers and monkeys), but I thought it’d be more fun for the kids and the volunteers to do monsters instead. So I came up with the idea of “hiding in plain sight.” I wanted to make a mural that kids can interact with. I want them to be a part of the world of the mural as they walk or stand in front of it.
A few people have told me the mural reminded them of Where the Wild Things Are. I can’t say I did that on purpose, but I guess you can’t draw monsters in a school without thinking of Maurice Sendak. I’m honored.
There were more than 30 NY Cares volunteers helping us paint the mural, and I was so impressed by how anal they were about getting everything just right. We finished painting the entire thing in 6 hours!
But really, the most rewarding part of the whole experience is watching the kids’ reaction as they walked to their classroom on Monday morning. Since us volunteers couldn’t be there to witness this in person, one of the teachers was nice enough to make video the kids’ first reaction.