Four seniors involved in the public art project at Orestimba High adorned the quad with a large Warrior head. From left are Sabrina Watts, Mireya Ruiz, Jocelyne Lainez and Denise Maldonado.

NEWMAN - Art is blossoming at Orestimba High School, where the creative works of students appeared not only in the classrooms but prominently across campus as the school year came to a close.

More than a dozen groups of students created murals and other art as part of a public art project, and two seniors selected by their peers as outstanding senior artists are leaving their legacy in the form of murals that will grace the walls of a classroom wing for years to come.

The public art projects ranged from works tucked away in campus nooks and crannies to a massive Warrior head which now fills a circle in the heart of the campus quad.

Four seniors - Denise Maldonado, Sabrina Watts, Mireya Ruiz and Jocelyne Lainez - tackled that daunting project.

“We decided to do something on a grand scale. We wanted something for people to remember the Class of 2015 and us,” said Watts.

Given the size of the artwork, which is 21 feet in diameter, and its prominent placement on campus, the student artists were determined to deliver a strong project.

“There was the pressure of not wanting to mess it up,” Maldonado acknowledged. “It is something that people are going to see every day.”

The students worked for about a month and a half on the Warrior head.

“Those four girls chose a particularly difficult project,” art teacher Renee Stearns said. “That is a large area. They had to mathematically figure out how to take a small drawing and expand it. There was a lot of problem-solving, for all of the students and each of the projects.”

The projects started as a public art assignment in which students were invited to develop their own ideas for artwork to grace the Orestimba campus. In addition to developing a design and color scheme, students also had to determine the appropriate location for their work.

“I challenged my advanced classes to design and propose a public art project here on campus. We talked about the benefits of public art and the importance of giving back to their community,” Stearns explained. “The students came up with their own groups, proposals, time lines and required materials, and they proposed the projects in front of their class.”

She said about 14 projects were to be completed this spring.

“This is something that we hope to do every year. The students really got behind the assignment,” Stearns remarked.

Typically, she noted, the public art pieces reflect the personal interests of students.

Softball players, for example, proposed a mural near the softball field while ag students were working on a mural at the school farm.

Senior artists

In addition, two students selected by their peers as the school’s outstanding senior art students were each working on a mural as the school year drew to a close.

Yohan Perez and Salome Ruppen had the honor of being the first outstanding senior artists.

They will each leave a mural approximately four feet square in size, of their own design - although the work must incorporate either an arrowhead, a tomahawk or a warrior head.

Each year, two seniors will add their own mural.

“The idea is to create a walking gallery and to draw attention to the arts program here and art in general. We have a tremendous number of talented students in this area, and I don’t know that they are recognized as they should be,” art teacher Gabie Layne commented. “We are saturated with talent. It is an amazing thing that we really want to show off.

“I love that they are selected by their peers,” he continued. “The students have chosen them as the best representatives of our school, and they get to leave a legacy at Orestimba.”