Student creates Picasso-inspired peace mural with elementary schoolers

Jacob Parker

One WKU student worked hard to complete and tour Kentucky’s first submission to the Guernica International Peace Mural Project, a project based off of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, to increase global awareness of the necessity of peace.

Louisville junior Megan McDonald, with the help of an artist and 60 fifth-graders from Hartstern Elementary School in Louisville, worked to put together a submission that was a first for Kentucky. The mural is now touring in different cities throughout Kentucky.

“To get the submission through, it took a lot of dedication and a lot of people working together,” McDonald said. “I couldn’t have done it without the school, the school couldn’t do it without the artist, the artist couldn’t do it without the funding.”  

McDonald went through many preparations with the students before beginning the project, including showing students different images of peace, teaching them conflict resolution skills, how to be a peaceful citizen and what a global community is. 

“They were told to draw what peace looked like to them, and places they felt peaceful,” she said.

After sketching out their representations, they were given to Alice Stone, an artist for the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, who then compiled a sketch of what they would look like in one piece. In an essential paint-by-number piece, the children painted while McDonald regularly visited the classroom via Skype. About a week later, the entire 25 ft by 12 1/2 ft piece was completed, in the exact specifications as Picasso’s original. 

McDonald said there has been many benefits from this project, including valuable experience for her future career.

“I thought it was really neat to trust 60 kids to paint something,” she said. “You give kids a project, and they’re going to go for it, especially if they care about it. That was an eye-opener for me as a future educator.”

Debbie Lockyear, the teacher of the fifth grade class, said that it was an honor to be asked to participate.

“As the piece started to fall into place, it has really been amazing,” she said.

Lockyear said she was thankful for the success of the project.

“It’s interesting and wonderful how many people have made this come true for these kids. It embodies what we’re trying to convey,” she said. 

The artist who helped create the project, Stone, said at the beginning it was a little overwhelming.

“I tried to put it in similar stacks, to represent all the students,” she said. “I wanted it to flow. And once things start, they usually have a tendency to fall into place.”

Stone said the painting was first outlined, then filled in by students, and it took almost 20 hours altogether to complete.

“I spent about ten hours with the kids on the piece, and ten hours by myself doing the outline and the finishing touches,” she said. 

“It’s even better than what I could’ve imagined. I can’t wait to walk in and see it.”