A mural painted in pinks, blues, violets, and greens shows a figure

A Mural for Bruce-Monroe Elementary: Collaboration, Community, and Más Paz

A beautiful new mural celebrating mathematics, the Black Lives Matter movement, and Latinidad graces the entrance of Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in Washington DC. The mural’s colors and images glow like the sun shining through stained glass and radiate the joy of community–and they serve as a reminder of a wonderful summer spent creating the artwork.

It all happened during the 2023 Summer Arts for Learning Academy (SALA) when artist Federico Frum–known as MasPaz–worked with students to imagine the mural and bring it to life with support from the National Gallery of Art. SALA, the free, five-week program operated by Arts for Learning Maryland in partnership with District of Columbia Public Schools, brings arts-integrated learning and creative exploration to hundreds of students in ways that support their growth in math and literacy. 

Last week, the Bruce-Monroe School community held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate their new mural in conjunction with their Latino Heritage Week celebration. “I used the center of the Mayan calendar to represent the ancient knowledge of numerology, while a person with a raised fist portrays the Black Lives Matter movement for social justice,'” Federico explained. “Throughout the mural, connections to Latin American ways of life are apparent–the earth and the land that we work on.”

A mural with lines and colors like stained glass and the Mayan calendar at the center runs on three walls of a school's entrance hall above the doors. windows line the top of the mural.

Children, parents, teachers, and principals were on site to show their appreciation for not just the finished piece, but the experience with the artist. Federico explained that community being at the center of the mural is one of the reasons the work is so special. During SALA, students made decisions about color and even helped Federico paint! Ingrid Garcia, a teaching artist in SALA, coordinated the creation of individual student artworks–miniature canvases–installed along the base and up both sides of the mural. 

One staff member said during the ceremony, “I have never seen children so happy in a summer program as they were at SALA.”

Arts for Learning Maryland’s Summer Arts for Learning Academy (SALA) in Washington DC is a free, full-day summer program for PreK–4th grade students. The program provides students with a fun summer packed with creative exploration and arts-integrated learning from the best teachers and teaching artists in the region. Learn more at artsforlearningmd.org/programs/summer-arts-academy/dc.