It wasn’t long ago that my friend Cecilia asked me if there was something I could do to make her Spanish classroom, affectionately named “La Patagonia”, look more ethnic and inviting to her elementary school students. After looking at the sterile and blank dry wall façade of her room, I concluded that I needed to combine colorful printed tiles on a stucco texture painted in a distressed, bleached-by-the-sun effect.
I immediately went on line and purchased 100 mixed Mexican Talavera tiles from a seller in Texas. A few days later on a Saturday afternoon in mid-October, we spent 4 hours tiling her doorway and a portion of the wall until we run out of tiles. On Sunday morning, I showed up with a gallon of Venetian Plaster and applied it generously on the cinder blocks with a trowel to texture the wall. I left a fan on drying the plaster, and we went home.
That Monday, the children were thrilled with their discovery admiring the tiles and choosing their favorite ones, but we were not done yet!
The following Saturday, I came with two quarts of latex semi-gloss paint, one soft yellow and one salmon orange, rubber gloves and a rag in hand. After covering the floor, I lightly applied on the textured surface the yellow paint with the rag, and almost immediately using the same rag, the orange paint with very controlled movements to produce a natural and authentic distressed effect. While I was working outside, Cecilia painted an interior wall facing the door with the yellow paint to warm up the atmosphere of her classroom. By lunch time we were done. We left the school building knowing that the character of her classroom and the aura of her space had been transformed by the colorful alchemy of our cultural heritage, and that the facade of her classroom will never be the same it was before! Such is the TRANSFORMATIVE Power of art!