05/05/11 — Mount Olive College artists help decorate Fremont school's hallway

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Mount Olive College artists help decorate Fremont school's hallway

By Gary Popp
Published in News on May 5, 2011 1:46 PM

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Mount Olive College student Tami Grady was the final artist to add a panel to a mural at Fremont STARS School. Led by MOC art director Cheryl Hooks, the halls have been transformed with artwork.

A team of students from Mount Olive College spent more than 1,000 hours to enhance the aesthetics of Fremont STARS School by creating a massive mural in the hallway of school's second floor.

Parents and community members will have a chance to view the recently completed mural at an open house tonight from 5-7 p.m.

The mural, which is 10 feet tall and 150 feet in length, features North Carolina landscapes while incorporating the students' curriculum.

Cheryl Hooks, chairman of the Department of Art and Visual Communication at Mount Olive College, has been instrumental in the project by serving as a guide for the seven students from the college's art department and by providing the overall vision. Hooks said she first thought of creating the mural when she was at the school with her son, who is student there.

"I saw the empty walls and thought what a great opportunity to bring the arts and couple that with the curriculum for the elementary school so it is an educational thing, as well as bring the awareness of the arts to the school," Mrs. Hooks said.

Mrs. Hooks researched the state's curriculum guidelines for elementary students and in January 2010, began creating sketches on the bare walls.

Principal Sheila Wolfe said the mural is a beautiful change from the previously drab gray walls.

Mrs. Wolfe said she is proud of the school's commitment to the arts and said she believes the mural will increase students' exposure to the visual arts, adding to their overall artistic enrichment.

"Just to know what (the mural) can do in the future for kids learning and experimenting and knowing what art forms are all about. We are very much a theatrical arts school, and this shows the other side of the arts," Mrs. Wolfe said.

For nearly a year and a half, students have watched the mural evolve under Mrs. Hooks' guidance.

"The most impressive thing was when they saw her students here with her and she was leading them." Mrs. Wolfe said. "They see teaching in a different aspect, and they see if you do involve yourself in art this all integrates with everything we do in a day."

The project was paid for by Mount Olive College through a student enrichment fund.

"Looking from my perspective, we got all of this for absolutely nothing. You have to look at those things with the budgets like they are. It is such a gift to us," Mrs. Wolfe said.

The only drawback is that the mural is on the school's second floor, where fewer people might see it.

"The only sour part, if there is anything, is that everybody who comes into the building can't see it firsthand," Mrs. Hooks said. "It is just amazing, it draws the attention of everybody that comes through here."

The mural presents sweeping scenes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Piedmont with its rolling hills and farms, and the coast. Part of it depicts the town of Fremont, dotted with daffodils.