05/04/04 — Goldsboro Middle mural completed after 3 three years

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Goldsboro Middle mural completed after 3 three years

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 4, 2004 2:00 PM

The 67-foot-long mural in the Goldsboro Middle School hallway has taken three years to complete. Some of its artists have since gone on to high school, passing along the paint brushes to a new slate of talents.

Featured on a wall in the commons area near the school cafeteria, the mural was dedicated during ceremonies after last week's band concert.

Rebecca Spivey, art teacher at the school, has overseen the project, which she says tells a story without words.

Goldsboro Middle mural

News-Argus/Phyllis Moore

Goldsboro Middle School art teacher Rebecca Spivey, left, with students Ricole Raynor, RaSean Edwards and Sabrina Brown.

"It reads left to right," she explained. "It's based on a poem 'The Creation' by James Weldon Johnson, but was originally a sermon by a slave preacher."

She said she read the poem to her students over and over and had them select their favorite part and draw it. The story unfolds from the time of creation into African folklore, incorporating stories with a moral and other elements of black history.

The colorful wall features scenes and animals, then blends into silhouettes and images of early black history, ranging from a slave ship, a cross, fire and noose, "symbols of that time," Ms. Spivey said.

There are also reminders of the civil rights era, with sketches of the underground railroad, sit-ins and a segregated lunch counter. The only words written are names, like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.

"In art, you don't put everything," Ms. Spivey said. "You want the viewer to figure out some things for themselves."

The art students had to do much research before the mural was begun. In addition to studying art forms, the classes took field trips to see murals by artist John Biggers, formerly from Goldsboro.

There were also many discussions about what should be included on the wall. Ms. Spivey said the group agreed to feature education and government, sports and entertainment. As the visual history unfolded, though, it was felt that diversity was an important component.

"In the classroom drawing, we needed to have children from different races," Ms. Spivey said.

There is also a scene featuring two students, one black and one white, dressed in basketball uniforms and doing a "high five." It is set against a backdrop of an American flag that represents one heart, one nation, Ms. Spivey said.

The last panel of the mural features a shadowed skyline that could be part New York, part Goldsboro Middle School. Beneath it are the words, "The Journey" and the byline "Goldsboro Middle School 2001-2004." Ms. Spivey said she was pleased with the hard work done by her students, bringing the project to life. What started out as sketches on a page and photographs used as guides, turned into a vibrant display that she says will be seen and enjoyed for generations.

"A lot of different emotions went into it," said RaSean Edwards, an eighth-grader who has worked on the mural since it was begun.

He and classmates Sabrina Brown and Ricole Raynor have always enjoyed art, they said, but never envisioned how completing this project would feel.

"It was hard. We were very busy with it," Sabrina said. "We took each other's advice and tried not to give Ms. Spivey a hard time."

Many stayed after school to work on it. Ricole even went in during the recent spring break to help finish it.

"We never thought it would look like this," Sabrina said.

"It looks like a professional artist did it," RaSean added. He said he hopes others will appreciate the outcome.

"It feels pretty good when somebody can look at it and tell the story without us having to tell the story," Sabrina said. "I think that's pretty cool."