by , Los Altos Town Crier
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Los Altos muralist Morgan Bricca unveils her mural for Almond School

Muralist Morgan Bricca has left her mark throughout the country, from an Olympic swim center in North Carolina to a hotel in San Diego.

Last spring, the Los Altos resident painted murals closer to home. She created them at Almond and Springer elementary schools.

For the mural on the outside wall of a classroom at Almond, Bricca worked with parent volunteer Jennifer Walker and principal Erika Benadom to develop the design. The whimsical, nostalgia-evoking mural features a blossoming almond tree, the school’s eagle mascot, dandelions, butterflies and children dancing. Bricca said the painting “captures the peak of (her) sweet phase” as an artist.

“The color palette was close to the rainbow and very warm,” she said. “There was so much sweetness in the flowers and the ambiguous fireflies that could be stars or floating dandelions. It’s a very tender age, and the mural was about celebrating that and the hope we have for the children in our lives.”

Almond’s Class of 2016 financed installation of the mural as its sixth-grade gift. They fund- raised throughout the year by working at the school carnival, selling snacks at the school musical and selling Jamba Juice to students on hot Friday afternoons.

It seems to have been worth their efforts. Walker said the mural – painted on the formerly bleak wall – received a warm reception from parents and students.

“Morgan took a space that no one ever noticed and transformed it,” Walker said. “Kids would come and walk by as she painted and say, ‘That is most beautiful painting I have ever seen.’”

INTERACTIVE MURAL

Bricca chose a different approach to her project at Springer. Instead of using a wall as her canvas, she designed a mural for the kindergarten blacktop with vibrant colors, honeybees and interactive games.

“We wanted an interactive mural to improve the space visually and brighten up the kindergarten yard,” said Christy Flahavan, vice president of the Springer PTA, “but we also wanted it to provide activities and learning opportunities for the kids.”

After receiving input from the kindergarten teachers, Bricca incorporated the kindergarten curriculum into a game-board design.

Bricca outlined the mural in chalk and it was painted entirely by volunteers, under her guidance and supervision. Now, volunteers anywhere can re-create the project using Bricca’s do-it-yourself online guide inspired by the “power and impact” of the playground mural.

Some of the interactive elements of the blacktop playground include a “Mirror Me” station, a “Counting by 5s” path and alphabet hopscotch. When school was in session, students lined up in the mornings to wait for their turn to sit on the giant frog perched by the painted river.

“The best part was seeing kids the day they arrived,” Flahavan said. “Seeing them on Monday morning – Morgan compared it to Christmas morning. They were running all over and playing and jumping.”

Bricca said she feels positive about the projects and enjoys the enthusiastic responses they have received.

“I hope the murals bring joy – that the kids at Springer come and dance on the playground on Monday mornings or that kids at Almond feel proud of their school when they see their mural,” she said.

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