A volunteer works on painting designs created by Hope-Hill Elementary students onto the Highland Avenue bridge over Freedom Parkway.

The Highland Avenue Bridge between Randolph and Sampson Streets has a fresh new look that celebrates the Old Fourth Ward community as seen through the eyes of its young residents.

Local artist Lauren Pallotta Stumberg worked with Hope-Hill Elementary School’s 4th graders to develop the mural design.

“It was a community effort,” Stumberg said. “Designed by kids, facilitated by me, and painted by members of the community.”

Stumberg applied for a Neighborhood Arts Grant from the City of Atlanta’s Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs with Fourth Ward Neighbors (FWN), her neighbors who live between Freedom Parkway and DeKalb Avenue, Boulevard and the BeltLine,

Once the grant was approved last August, FWN encouraged Stumberg to build on its relationship with Hope-Hill by involving students. Perhaps by fate, Stumberg and Hope-Hill’s Art teacher, Patricia Jackson, discovered they lived in the same building.

The timing was perfect for Jackson’s fourth graders. “We’d been talking about muralists versus graffiti artists,” Jackson reflected. Now her students would create alongside a professional artist from their neighborhood.

After reviewing different elements of street art, Stumberg guided the students through activities to elicit their vision. Each student expressed in words or drawings what he or she thought of community. The images revealed a happy and healthy neighborhood.

Then Stumberg traced a drawing from each student onto transparent paper, scanned it, and enlarged it. At her next school visit, she placed the enlarged images on the wall and students painted their designs – seeing how the mural would come together.

The various drawings created for the bridge mural by Hope-Hill Elementary students.

“The design evolved into a large-scale ‘wallpaper’ of their drawings and ideas that celebrate the neighborhood’s walkable and bikable pathways, parks, buildings, servicemen, residents, and more,” Stumberg shared.

To paint the mural, Stumberg once again created a process to involve her neighbors.

“It was basically paint by numbers to make it full-proof for volunteers. It’s been very participatory,” Stumberg said.

“When the students look at it they can see – this is mine,” Jackson said.

Stumberg has applied for more art funding to beautify two more bridges and electrical boxes in the O4W. Fingers crossed until August.

“I hope we can collaborate again next school year,” Jackson said.

“When our students see something that they helped create have a positive impact on their neighborhood and surrounding communities, it instills a sense of pride,” Hope Hill Principal Maureen Wheeler, added.

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