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September 22, 2023

Mural project turns broken dishes into a colorful work of art

Cali CalmŽcac wall transformed into school

by NATHAN WRIGHT – Staff Writer
For passersby, the mural of broken dishes on the wall at Cali
CalmŽcac Charter School is a work of beauty. For designer Camille
Whiteman, it is her gift to a generation of children who have gone
without an art curriculum in school.
“I think it’s terrible that art has been taken out of schools,”
Whiteman said. “I wanted to give these kids the experience of
making art.”
And make art they have. A mural that began with a dish
collection drive in September has blossomed into a wall of self
portraits crafted by the student body of 900 students. All nine
grade levels at Cali CalmŽcac have contributed, turning what was
once a dull, white wall into a display of colors and images that
will be appreciated for decades to come.
“Even though I’m leaving in a couple years, I like it that I’m
going to make this a better school for future students,” said
seventh grader Laurel Larsen.
Larsen is one of a large group of students who work on the mural
every week. Whiteman, a volunteer and parent, has made herself
available daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students work on the mural
during class, at breaks and after school.
“This wall is their pride and joy,” said volunteer Connie
Prince. “They take it very seriously.”
Offering a pizza party to the class who could collect the most
dishes, Whiteman collected bins and bins of material that needed to
be broken. “The dish breaking was the kids favorite thing,” said
Whiteman. “Everyone got a chance to break one.”
Whiteman then asked students to draw self portraits on paper,
which she transferred to the wall. The drawings were all color
coded, allowing for students to match colors correctly and work on
any section of the wall they pleased.
The project is almost four months old, and Whiteman hopes to
have it finished sometime in February. Although the project nears
completion, the bins of extra material and an abundance of white
walls on campus have sparked a number of jokes directed at
“They joke and say after I do this wall I can do the next one,
and the one after that,” Whiteman said.
Whiteman hopes that her efforts have given the students a new
appreciation of the arts.
“In school, we always had an art teacher and an art room,” she
said. “We always looked forward to going to art class.”
Whiteman can’t increase the district’s art budget, but she can
help the 900 students at Cali CalmŽcac create a work of art.


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