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SCOE Students: Driving Force Behind Three Unique Murals

Discovery, Creativity, and Talent Now on Display

Staff and artist posing with mural

Arts Integration Coordinator Jasmin Martinez (left) coordinated the mural project for three SCOE schools along with Sacramento Artists Henry “Fisko” Fisk (back) and Milton Bowens (seated).

Bold, bright, and intriguing murals grace the walls of three Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) schools this fall. Created by SCOE students, the works of art are a culmination of months of collaboration, from concept through design, and finally painting.

“Murals are a great way to engage students since they’re involved every step of the way,” explained local artist and project lead Milton Bowens. “The kids get involved in the mural’s design from the conceptual aspect of the project. When you see students work towards a design on their own, that becomes the magic of it.”

Bowens was joined by another Sacramento artist—Henry ‘Fisko’ Fisk—as they guided the students through brainstorming sessions which became the three murals’ initial sketches on 11-inch by 17-inch sheets of paper. An editing and revision process followed to be certain the sketches brought out the intended meanings. Once approved, the designs were transferred to large plywood panels. Students painted the foundation, then the artists touched up finer details before the works of art were installed on a prominent wall at each school.

The Mural at El Centro Jr./Sr. High School

The overall theme for El Centro’s mural is the power of education and the potential for change it provides. The image of a cap and gown is the focal point since many students have earned their high school diplomas and/or associate degrees while enrolled in El Centro programs. Two hands—one with a closed handcuff and the other with an open handcuff—represent accountability and the power of making choices. The Sacramento cityscape, with the road illustrating an arrow with footprints leading to the cap and gown, represents how some students get to their destination quickly while others may take a little longer. The completed mural at El Centro will hang in the school’s visiting center, where families gather with their children. It’s also where graduation ceremonies are hosted.

The Mural at Elinor Lincoln Hickey Junior/Senior High School

Students at Hickey chose to represent unity, peace, and inclusiveness in their school’s mural. They were the driving force behind what they wanted to feature in terms of school spirit and differences within the student population. It was important for them to depict where they’re from, so the California State Flag, ocean waves, and the Tower Bridge were all incorporated into the finished work of art. Inclusiveness and diversity are illustrated by the paper cutout people strung across the entire mural, each one painted with a unique skin tone. The school’s Trojan mascot was also included. Hickey’s mural is hanging on the outer wall of the school’s administration building, near the entrance.

The Mural at Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr. Junior/Senior High School

Colley’s school mural is hanging in the in the school’s multipurpose room. Students wanted the art’s focus to be about the school’s namesake, Nathaniel S. Colley. A historical display at the school provided notes and biographical information for the students to research. They took elements of Colley’s career and brought them to life—the things he stood for, his accomplishments, and what he meant to the community—it’s all represented in the design. Colley also loved racehorses, and students decided to paint their horse’s mask an “army green” color to honor Colley’s military service. The scales of justice are an ode to his advocacy for civil rights.

More Information

If you would like additional information on the three-mural project or to schedule a viewing of one or more of the murals, contact SCOE’s Arts Integration Coordinator, Jasmin Martinez.

Artist holding plan for mural as it's being painted

Sacramento artist Henry “Fisko” Fisk worked with students both in the design phase and in painting the three large murals. 

A paper mockup showing sections of the planned mural

Students chose vibrant colors and meaningful symbolism to capture the power of education. Shown is the paper sketch used to plan the four panels that make up the El Centro mural.

Milton Bowens helping students as they paint a mural

Noted Sacramento artist Milton Bowens (right) guided SCOE students as they designed and painted three large murals.