Phillips@THEARC Summer Camp: Making Murals

Manager of Community Projects Laylaa Randera on the Phillips@THEARC Summer Camp.

Over the past few weeks, Phillips@THEARC offered a fun and educational mural-making summer camp. Campers learned how their own art for the public—whether for their immediate community or the broader DC population—can be appreciated. For four weeks, the camp was bustling every day with campers ages 8-13 years. We explored the functions of murals and public art installations, including how art can reshape, uplift, and call attention to a community’s built environment and interpersonal culture.

Campers with the mural behind them and a live painting board in front of them.

Mural artist Tenbeete Solomon, better known as Trap Bob, led the making of the mural. Trap Bob’s brightly colored murals, which are frequently inspired by activism and community issues, can be seen around the city. (Check out her great Phillips100 logo!) Trap Bob guided the campers through designing and painting a mural. Campers sketched out ideas and discussed what they’ve seen in murals around their community. The three themes that the campers chose were: hands, outer space, and abstract.

On Fridays, we went on field trips. On the first Friday we visited The Phillips Collection and spent the day exploring the galleries and doing art activities. Donna Jonte, Head of Experiential Learning, led a tour and developed fun stuff for us to do.

Emma Dreyfuss teaching campers about Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series at The Phillips Collection.

On the second and third Friday, we went on mural tours in DC. Despite the blistering heat, we put our walking shoes on and got to know some of the prolific artists making murals in the city. Cory Stowers, a muralist and graffiti artist, led the tours. We visited the Graffiti Museum in NW DC, and from there went down to U street and Shaw. We also looked at murals East of the River, some of which date back to the 80s.

Cory Stowers leading mural tour East of the River.

The camp counselors led many activities too, including the creation of a model-magic monument park and live painting exercises where we let our creative juices flow and free painted on plywood boards to music.

Campers working on marbled memory books.

Campers working on the mural.

Campers working on the mural.

One of the highlights of the camp was going to the splash park on Wednesdays. With the summer heat, it was a much-needed activity.

A huge thanks must be given to our camp counselors Juliana Walsh, Emma Dreyfuss, Community Engagement Intern Kiara Bennett, Community Engagement Detail Karlisima Rodas-Israel, Building Bridges, and DC Central Kitchen.

The final mural made by the campers will be installed and displayed at THEARC this fall—please come check it out!

The Phillips Mural Summer Camp on a field trip to the museum.