Highland Park students make (dotted) mark
Wayne Thomas Elementary School fifth-grader Marina Lubell, 11, adds a dot to the dot mural in the hallway at the school Sept. 21. | Michael Jarecki ~ for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 23, 2013 4:57PM
HIGHLAND PARK— Art teacher Amanda Kurzawski didn’t have a particular design in mind when she lined a school corridor with white paper and invited students to create a mural out of dots of multiple sizes and colors.
Artistic freedom was, in fact, the point of the dot mural project, a way to encourage the creatively timid to take a risk and make their own mark.
The all-school project was inspired by the children’s book, “The Dot,” by writer and illustrator Peter Reynolds, and the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
“The Dot” tells the story of a young girl who is convinced she can’t draw until proven wrong by her teacher.
Reynolds has said he wrote the book about getting “unstuck” to encourage children to be creatively brave.
Kusama, whose work has spanned six decades, is the creator of The Obliteration Room, an interactive art installation at the Tate Modern Art Museum in New York that invites museum goers to add dot stickers to a specific space.
For two weeks in September, the 370 pupils at Wayne Thomas School in North Shore District 112 added self-sticking, vinyl dots of various sizes and colors — red, orange, yellow, gold, silver, blue, green, black and white — as the creative spirit moved them. The dots came in waves when whole classes visited the mural. Or children would add a dot or two as they passed by the mural after gym class.
“It was about taking the risk, taking the chance and adding your own mark to the world of art and seeing where it takes you,” said Kurzawski, who has taught art in the district for the past 11 years. “When you are not sure what to do, just make a mark and see where it goes.”