While most students spend their second period tapping away at their desks, senior Shannon Steed spends hers sweeping her brush across walls.
Many think of STEM subjects as rigid and technical, but engineering teacher Karen Wytmans strove to change that. In need of a mural for her blank workshop walls, Wytmans turned to the art department — and thus, Steed.
“[The mural] is STEAM themed — science, technology, engineering, art, math — because they want to start integrating art into the realm of majors that can get you potential work experience,” Steed said. “There’s this stigma around art that it is starving artist territory where you don’t really make it unless you’re in the STEM program or in the STEM majors, and that’s not what they want to do anymore.”
Not a fan of the starving artist trope, Steed exerts that people can indeed get a career in the arts.
“A lot of people go into graphic design, or animation, or really marketable skills that aren’t just painting for galleries because that doesn’t make you a living, but a lot of things can,” Steed said.
Each part of the mural is separated into sections to best showcase each subject.
“It is split into five sections — the science section is the anatomy of the eye pointing out different parts of it, technology has gears, engineering is a blueprint, art is a painting with a paintbrush and my signature, and math is geometric shapes and symbols,” Steed said.
Steed’s original vision was different from Wytmans’ idealistic views. However, they eventually came to a compromise.
“Originally, she wanted all the walls to have a mural on them; it’s a huge workshop! I couldn’t do that because I have more murals and stuff to do so I didn’t really have time,” Steed said. “But I worked with her, I showed her some sketches; I had a sketch for an octopus-related one that was really cool but she wanted something more straightforward — it was symbolic but you know whatever, it works.”
Doing this piece came to Steed in a stroke of luck, thanks to the opportunistic art teacher.
“I was talking to Ms. Adams to do a concentration and she [said] “hey man, I know that you are very behind, so how about you paint a mural? Because they asked me and I know you like painting big things and making an impact, so I think you would enjoy doing it,’” Steed said.
Now completed, the mural is available for viewing in the engineering workshop in N6.
Currently, Steed is working on other projects for her concentration. However, this one will leave its mark on the school.