The Junior School Mural
“The Year That Zoomed By” commemorates a special school year spent in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. This community mural was created in the Spring of 2021 by five J4 classes and over 75 members of the faculty and staff at UNIS.
The 8 ½ ft x 8 ½ ft mural, installed on the wall of the landing in the stairwell across from the Junior School library, is made of 256 unique ceramic tiles. Under the artistic direction of Anne Francey, students and their teachers created a painted portrait of themselves on zoom, some appearing to be holding hands from one tile to the other, while staff and faculty wrote hashtags expressing the resilience, memories and hardships of a memorable year. The tiles were created within a short three day span, relying on careful planning and truly inspired community effort.
The final design of the mural evokes a close-up view of a QR code, alluding to the virtual communication mode that defined much of the school year, when teaching and learning were taking place remotely through a computer screen. The color glow of the painted tiles sections, contrasted with the written tiles whose white lettering on a dark background alludes to the traditional blackboard, imbues the mural with a soft light.
With a shift in scale and creating a strong visual rhythm throughout the mural, the ten IB learner profile values are inserted in the design. “Open-minded”, “risk-takers”, “communicators”, ”caring” are just a few of these attributes that were displayed time and time again by UNIS in its efforts to focus on community and quality education during the 2020-2021 school year.
The QR code embedded in the mural is active and linked to a UNIS website page. It chronicles the actual making of the Mural through photos, videos and spoken comments from the participants. This unusual year is now commemorated in three different modes: visual and written expressions on the ceramic tiles, as well as documentation of the way collaborative art-making can inspire a community to rally around a shared common goal.
J4 Teacher's Reflection
This year has showcased how resilient, independent and adaptable our UNIS students can be. Through no fault of their own they have had to sacrifice normalcy and many of the things that make UNIS and the school year special. Memorable moments like: field trips, playing, adventure day, graduation, sports day and simply being all together has changed and had to be replaced by activities that can be done in a pandemic. They adapted magnificently and we are proud. This mural project doesn’t replace these lost moments and memories, but rather acts as a monument to their resilience and to the strength they have demonstrated again and again throughout the year. Through art, the creation of this mural has done something that has been impossible all year: bring us together in one space. Our exploration of what we look like on zoom through self portraiture and a brief statement on a certain topic that has contextualized our lives for the past year transcends each individual tile and represents themes the entire Junior School and UNIS can relate to and appreciate. This unique project creates a visually striking testimonial of the unique year that we have all endured.