Painting the stars, planets too
Mural offers opportunity to combine interest in astronomy and art
The mural project outside of the Port Chester Middle School planetarium combines two interests for many students.
“I am crazy about art,” eighth-grader Nicole Novoa said. “I am an art nerd. I love astronomy too.”
Nicole has found the perfect project that combines her two passions.
One afternoon, she was dabbing at a canvas with a sponge, working on an image of a sliver moon with a silhouetted person in it.
“I thought the composition of the photo was really cool,” Nicole said.
The idea of creating a mural had been considered before astronomy teacher Jaime Rufo joined the staff at PCMS. Once the project moved forward, she shared interesting images that her students then voted on to include in the project.
Large panels were hung up in the hallway outside the planetarium. Students have spent every Thursday after school painting each panel with an astronomy-related theme since late winter.
Among the designs are an image of Saturn with its rings, a sliver moon with a person in silhouette and a view of Earth from the International Space Station which includes an image of astronaut Karen Nyberg.
“It feels good to do something that will last,” Ms. Rufo said. “The school is so unique in that it has a planetarium.”
While working on the mural, sixth-grader Morgan Saunders painted the reflection of mountains in a lake. Once complete, the panel will also include an array of stars.
“I’ve always loved painting,” Morgan said. “When I paint, it gets me into the zone.”
Morgan said this particular image stood out to her when it came time to decide which panel she wanted to work on.
Sixth-grader Juan Pablo “J.P.” Gomez, worked on the panel featuring lettering signaling this was the school’s planetarium.
He said he thought his pencil drawing skills might be helpful to this project.
“It seemed fun. I like painting,” he said. “It’s unique.”
Eighth-grader Jelsy Lopez was attracted to the project due to her interest in space.
“I really like the universe and how interesting it can be,” she said of the project that enabled her to learn more about art. “I got more interested in how colors work in different ways.”
Ms. Rufo added her own touches to the mural alongside the students.
“They are going at it,” Ms. Rufo said of the students. “And they are doing a great job.”
She was not the only teacher to help.
Math teacher Virginia Ellis grabbed a paint brush too.
“I’m not an artist,” she said. “But I like working with the kids and I love the planetarium.”