Haines High School art students debut a skatepark mural project

Haines art teacher Giselle Miller takes a photo of art students (Photo by Corinne Smith / KHNS)

There was palpable excitement in the air as students, families, teachers, and friends gathered on a chilly autumn evening to view the Haines art student wall project at the skate park. There was food, music and catching up as it was also one of the first community events since a recent COVID surge last month.

“It’s so beautiful. I’m so happy that people are coming here to see our pieces,” said Senior Trygve Bakky, looking out over the large indoor skate park as skaters go by and younger children play on the ramps.

“We have been working on it since the end of August and beginning of September. It was an entire course that we all took that describes the process of how to spread artwork via graffiti and how do we do that legally? Write a suggestion to the district, explain what we did, ”said Bakky.

Artist Jeremy Settem paints during the community showcase event. (Photo by Corinne Smith / KHNS)

The class, led by art teacher Giselle Miller and assisted by local artist Jeremy Setem, involved developing proposals with drafts and budgets presented to the community. They studied the history of graffiti and street art, painting and spraying techniques and put their ideas into practice.

Now the walls and ramps are adorned with various colorful paintings in different styles and sections.

“I was working on the universe painting over there, it was a lot of fun,” said Bakky, pointing to a large ramp.

In addition to the planets in orbit, there is a large formline killer whale. It’s one of several works of art that were there before and incorporated, like a multi-colored face painted by a Haines teenager, Mario Benassi Jr., who tragically died in a river accident in California a few years ago. In addition, there is now a new mural of Benassi, who sings and plays the guitar.

Artwork in the skate park (Photo by Corinne Smith / KHNS)

Freshman Hayden Jimenez previously said the skate park was somehow forgotten. There was trash and lots of penis drawings. For some, it might even be intimidating. Now, he said, it’s a lot more fun.

“Better energy in the skate park in general,” said Jimenez. “Yes, there are some pretty cool and talented artists and works of art.”

A striking woman can be seen in profile on one wall, wearing a mask and shedding a dark blue tear.

“I really like Pop Art, that was the inspiration for it,” said Senior Aubrey Cook, the artist. She thought about what it was like to exhibit her work in public.

“I think it was so cool, I’ve never done a piece like this. Especially this big one, I’ve never done such a big piece, ”said Cook. “If you had come here earlier there was just a bunch of graffiti all over the place with inappropriate things, but now it’s like a really nice place. And we’ve all learned that it’s a living space to breathe, which means that at some point it will be obscured by other people’s artwork, but we’re really grateful that we had this opportunity to paint. “

Aubrey Cook with her work of art. (Photo by Corinne Smith / KHNS)

And it was a tough lesson. During the course project, some parts were partially vandalized and had to be repainted. Art teacher Giselle Miller said there were excuses and the class worked together on the situation.

“It’s part of street art. That’s part of graffiti that it changes and evolves, ”Miller said. “I think it is also very important to teach students this impermanence. I’ve made a few big pieces and they don’t exist anymore, so the documentation is very important and part of the process. “

Miller said she was incredibly proud of her personal and artistic growth.

The community can now view the students’ works of art in the Haines skate park.

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