2016 Mural Contest Second-Place Winner: 'Correcting the Ship'

Mendocino County Youth Project's 2nd place mural, described in the article.

Congratulations to Mendocino County Youth Project (MCYP) in Ukiah, California, second-place winner of the 2016 Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) Runaway and Homeless Youth Mural Contest. For the sixth year, grantees of FYSB’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Program were given the chance to win the materials to paint a mural in their facilities. A jury of FYSB staff members and young people from Child and Family Charities Gateway Division, last year’s winning agency, picked the winner and two finalists.

Here is the second-place artwork and excerpts from the accompanying essay. You can see all of this year’s entries in our 2016 mural contest slideshow.

The concept of the mural that we are proposing was developed through dialogue with a team of eight students (including three current MCYP clients) at South Valley High School. South Valley is a continuation high school where students who have struggled in one way or another can make up credits and graduate. It was obvious throughout our discussions that these students feel that their school represents a safe place of encouragement, respect, family, and a place free of judgment. It is this space that is allowing them to “correct the ship before it crashes into the shore.”

The Message

“Today we have opportunities to go further [than] we ever have before. We use yesterday as our launchpad and our failures as nothing more [than] openings to rise to the occasion. We consciously choose to do better, to reach further, and go beyond the confines of yesterday. We can do all these things and more. Within this richly inspiring space, we find ourselves and anything is possible. As long as there is a song of hope to be sung, we will yearn for a better tomorrow. By looking to each other for support and love, we have the power to make the difference today and every day.”  - South Valley student artist

The Symbolism

In the mural, the falcon exemplifies higher vision, higher knowledge, success, and an eye for what’s ahead. While looking toward the future, it helps guide the ship with the line and anchor in its claw. The anchor represents reliability and consistency, which are good qualities for students to learn. The line is tied to the S.S. Evolution and is safely being nudged to change course, avoiding the perils that unknowingly lay ahead. Changing course can only occur when each student is willing to responsibly navigate through the waters of life according to their own will.

The S.S. Yesterday signifies challenges students have overcome in their life. All of the students agree that it is their responsibility to choose how they want to make their future, and with a little help from each other, it can be very bright.

Both of our ships find themselves floating in a sea of uncertainty, change, and mystery, but above all, possibility. Surrounded by shores of inspiration, all the people are joined together with nature. The earth rises behind the falcon and speaks to raising consciousness and positive change for the future. What makes us strong is our unity and friendship. No matter what happens in life, the song of hope, which is the song of the falcon, will forever inspire us to grow and never give up. We hope that the message will continue to resonate for generations and continue to remind students to make healthy life decisions for themselves and those around them.

The Youth-Driven Creative Process

We first began the creative process in a roundtable discussion, where we asked students what was important to them and from where they drew their inspiration. In the next session, we discussed the thoughts and symbolism brainstormed from our past encounter and generated a clearer depiction of their ideas. We then asked if there was anything missing or what could be added to our list.

Once we had a new, comprehensive list, we had the students do a quick sketch of what we had discussed. Each student individually came up with some great concepts and very vivid imagery for us to work with. At the last meeting, our lead muralist brought a sketched proposal, which included all of their ideas in one cohesive sketch for them to review. Once again, we asked if there was any way to make the sketch better. After a brief discussion, we asked the students to take some time and define what this mural meant to them. In our next artist meeting, we intend to take the students to look at murals that are in the area to study and discuss what we see.

View all the entries in this year’s mural contest.

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