It’s true, the first data mural is actually painted! We did a speedy process with the Cambridge Boys and Girls Club to create a mural based on the results of surveys that the members fill out throughout the year. A group of 8-11 year-olds looked at a small subset of the results from the survey and decided to focus the mural on results that showed that everyone who responded said it was “very true” or “sort of true” that they feel safe at the club.
Together we built with LEGOs, built with other craft supplies, drew pictures and talked in order to come up with ideas for images that represent the ways that they feel safe at the club and the things that make them feel safe. They developed some very literal images, like lists of rules and the building itself, as well as some powerful symbols like a rope made up of two things tightly twisted. They also contributed quotes to compliment the numerical data that we had.
We came up with ideas for how to put the images together into a cohesive whole and they sent me home to finalize the design.
This week we spent two afternoons transferring the image onto the wall with chalk and painting it along with many more members of the club. The youngest members helped with the preliminary painting, and the older members stepped in at the end to help smooth some of the lines and add final touches.
The Boys and Girls Club director is planning a presentation of the completed mural as a way to share the image with parents and start a conversation about what they learn from the surveys and how kids feel about the club.
The design is a little bit childish in some ways, but that seems appropriate for the location. We worked hard to balance the design without changing the original drawings and ideas that the kids generated. It was fun to see the group of designers identify the images that they had thought of or drawn in the final design. They showed their friends and especially enjoyed painting those parts. We’ve thought about putting a “key” on the side that explains the image and all of its parts. Since there’s space around the edge it might be something to add in the future.