West art students create tropical mural


Photo Courtesy of Shirley Yuen

Junior art student Alexis Zuniga adds finishing touches.

Jackie Martinusen, Staff Writer

Apparently, a blank wall simply suggests creative opportunities for the right artists, and Central West advanced art teacher Shirley Yuen had them. Yuen put her advanced art students to the test on a wall right outside her classroom by suggesting they create a tropical landscape mural honoring their talent and the natural world at once. Yuen explained, “I wanted students to be inspired before they entered my room and this mural is a great way for them to get inspired right before they begin class.” The initial mural plans began in fall and the project was completed this spring.

The hallway wall outside the West campus shop classroom 31 was “attacked creatively” according to Ms. Yuen, whose students drew from natural beauty for inspiration.

This year-long project started as a collaborative effort involving all advanced West art students, but truly began with Kaitlyn Dalerio, Lyndsie Lyman, Marissa DeAlba and Alexis Zuniga, who were committed to staying after school to prep the wall for painting. Then, advanced students Audrianna Nunez, Dalerio, Lyman, DeAlba, Zungina and others took on the wall whenever the could – in class or after hours. Yuen had originally envisioned an assignment to help students discover the dramatic effects and challenges of painting on black canvas and extended the exercise to a larger mural project. Yuen says, “This was the perfect opportunity for them to understand.” 

I’d like to think I’m leaving behind a legacy.”

— Kaitlyn Dalerio

Mural projects are often difficult in terms of scaling and execution due to their sheer size alone, but due to a wealth of skill garnered from Yuen and other art teachers, students reportedly tackled the project with ease. Yuen states, “It was a special opportunity, for the students to have this experience, as well as for me to witness their amazing abilities.” Advanced art student and muralist Lindsie Lyman found the collaborative aspect of the project engaging stating, “We were able to connect with other artists and combine ideas.” 

Yuen and her students are proud they were able to create such a colorful, large-scale, public art piece that will  be a part of West campus for years to come. Yuen states that she had always wanted do something with the the blank canvas by her door and that it was “rewarding to see the vision come to fruition, and to witness my student’s joy in accomplishing beautiful work.”  Muralist Kaitlyn Dalerio states, “I’d like to think I’m leaving behind a legacy.”