Art Students to Install 48-Hour Pop-Up Floral Mural on Forest Avenue Promenade

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Senior Emma Purdy and freshman Charley Jerabek bring to life the black and white themed found object sculpture. Photo/LBUSD

Spring is in the air, and Laguna Beach High School (LBHS) students in Jamie Kough’s Advanced Placement Art, Art Production 1 and 2 classes will add to the beauty of the season by creating and installing a one-of-a-kind pop-up floral mural and photo opportunity on the Forest Avenue Promenade in Laguna Beach for public viewing May 4 through 6. 

The art installation project, funded by a grant from SchoolPower, is the culmination of a year-long exploration of environment-focused art and integrates the study of public works as students partner with local artists, businesses and the City of Laguna Beach to create art that invites audiences to reflect on the beauty around us, consumerism and the human impact on our local environment.  

The floral pop-up will be installed on found object sculptures designed and constructed by LBHS students using trash and recycled materials donated by Terra Verde. Photo/LBUSD

In the fall, Kough and her students worked with the Coast Film Festival to create and display a 40-foot mural entirely out of paintings and frames from a local gallery that were slated for disposal at a local landfill. Continued work includes an upcoming collaborative mural and landscape design around sustainable farming on the high school campus and a mural event for city-wide rain collection barrels. Teaming with the LBHS Flow (Fire, Land, Ocean and Water) Program led by LBHS teachers Jun Shen and Sarah Benson, Kough and her students plan to incorporate two rain barrels in the flower pop-up.

“We’re so excited to bring the community together through art and nature with this collaborative public art project,” says LBHS art teacher Jamie Kough. “Bringing the classroom outside into the working world gives students invaluable real-world experience as they are exposed to the process of public art-making and collaboration.”

As part of the planning process, students worked to find a location for the installation, created design proposals for approval by the Laguna Beach City Arts Commission, and developed the project budget. Currently, they are creating found object sculptures using trash and materials donated by Terra Verde. 

A multitude of partners are involved in the mural’s inception and creation, including Faye Baglin of Laguna Beach-based Cultural Art Project (CAP), Laguna Beach’s parent-led education foundation SchoolPower, the Laguna Beach City Arts Commission, Irvine-based recycling center Terra Verde, artist Adam Schwerner and floral designer and owner of Poppyhill Flowers, Laura Williams.

“Flowers are similar to strokes from a paintbrush and have composition rules and freedom similar to what students are used to,” says Williams, who hopes students will gain an understanding of the impact their art has on others. “Due to the lockdown and the insane challenges our students have to face in today’s climate, mental health is so important. Flowers make us pause, breathe a little deeper, and experience wonder.”

Echoing Williams’ sentiments, Kough hopes the project provides students a fresh outlook during the hectic time of end-of-year school demands. 

“Working together is a blast, and being challenged by how to make different aesthetics cohesive is quite satisfying,” Kough said. “This is not an opportunity many students in high school get a chance to do. There is something about working with flowers that is so calming and much-needed during this stressful time of year. Ultimately the goal is to create a gift for our community using our gifts that remind people to enjoy the little things, the beauty all around us.”

Students have been enthusiastic about learning about mixing art forms and their ability to challenge viewers’ opinions.

“I’m excited to see these two intricate art forms–flowers are so beautiful, and trash is stereotypically seen as disgusting–come together as something beautiful,” freshman Arianna Nikkhah said about combining floral art with recycled material art. “It’s refreshing to see these boundaries broken, and I can’t wait for it to all come together.”

Free and open to the public, community members can view the installation and celebrate the floral mural from Thursday, May 4, to Saturday, May 6, outside Tuvalu on the Forest Avenue Promenade. On May 4, students will work all day to install the sculptures on Forest Avenue and adorn them with flowers and greenery under Williams’ guidance. The floral mural will be unveiled at 4 p.m., in time for First Thursday Art Walk, and displayed for 48 hours for the community to enjoy as a photo opportunity. At noon on May 6, students invite the public to take home flowers from the installation.

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