Among any number of other anxiety-inducing occurrences, 2016 will be remembered as The Year That A Whole Lot of Famous People Died. But beyond our surface-level mourning, our requisite posting of YouTube clips and vintage photos, there was a more thorough consideration of these lost artists and their significance. Who were they as people? What did they stand for artistically and socially, and what lessons can we carry forward from them into the next generation?
Philadelphia school district teacher Nicholas Mehalick takes the deeper approach. Last year, the AP teacher at Girard Academic Music Program worked with his students to create a classroom mural memorializing David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman, all of whom passed away last year. As Mehalick explains it, it’s a celebration of sexuality and race, of human complexity and ultimately of unity. His class finished it before summer break, and it became an integral part of his instruction during the fall semester.
Mehalick reached out to us over the holiday about the mural, and we swapped emails to get more information on the project — his responses are thorough and illuminating, and you can read them in full below. Continue reading →