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The Student News Site of Darien High School


The Student News Site of Darien High School


Music Notes, Statues and a Cow?

Meet this year’s muralists and learn about the impacts they hope to leave for the DHS community.
Katie Galligan
The mural painting class is available to juniors and seniors who have taken Drawing and Painting 3 and received teacher approval. Before painting the mural students must get the design and location approved with administration.

If you’re ever bored during your next free period, here’s a challenge: go on a mural hunt. Everyone at Darien High School has a favorite mural; maybe it’s the giant cow in the 3rd floor B building stairwell or the growing apples painted on three canvases in the math hallway. 

Every year, juniors and seniors are able to sign up for the mural painting class to create a permanent mark on the school. This year, seniors Isabella Moss ’24 and Annika Mengwall ’24 are both leaving their legacy and sending messages through paint in very different ways. 

“I like that it is entirely student-driven for what their idea is. It has zero teacher direction as to what they should or would paint.” Ms. Sammis, the primary mural class teacher, said.

Moss is the drum major of the DHS band and an avid art class member. Moss plans to pursue art in college. Their work has been featured in the iCreate exhibit at the Bruce Museum and over this past summer they attended the Rhode Island School of Design Five Week Intensive for printmaking. They have also worked on a mural in Bridgeport for the NBA Lab. These artistic experiences have prepared them for the mural painting class. 

“For me this mural was one good way of leaving my mark at the school that encompassed everything I’ve done here. It’s a good combination of my two interests.” Moss said.

Moss has been playing the clarinet for eight years. They run the DHS Band Instagram and help to conduct the band at the football games. (Katie Galligan)

Moss’s mural uses black, dull yellow and light blue to portray a flowy piece of written music intertwined with figures of DHS students playing instruments, conducting and singing. It’s being painted in the basement of the F building across from the chorus room in between the big back doors of the auditorium. You may not visit that hallway frequently, that is, unless you’re a music student.

“A few people were like ‘oh no ones going to see your mural that way,’ but for me that’s kind of why I chose it. The goal is to be seen but my intended audience was music students and that’s where they live basically. I live down there in the basement F wing.” Moss said. “I thought of the little kids like the elementary schoolers and middle schoolers coming there and seeing that piece of art and just kind of being inspired.” 

Mengwall’s mural serves a different purpose from Moss’s. Hers is located in one of the busiest hallway locations: the wall on the side of the library that students see right after entering the front doors of the school. Her mural conveys a powerful message about mental health as it depicts various Roman and Greek statues she saw on a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City which are being hugged by various colorful human silhouettes from all different walks of life. 

“The statues are of prominent people who were very strong, physically, mentally, but they broke over time and they have all their cracks and breaks. But despite all of their imperfections we as society still assign them extremely high value. We put them in museums and we preserve them.” Mengwall said. “I think that parallels the way we should think about ourselves. In this town there is so much pressure to be these strong people but in reality we have all these breaks.”   

Mengwall hopes to pursue medicine in college but throughout her time at DHS she has been very involved with the art community. She has won two Scholastic Gold Key Awards for her work, got a perfect score on her AP Art Portfolio and, like Moss, she was also featured in the iCreate exhibit at the Bruce Museum.

“My favorite mural meeting I ever had was with a former assistant principal that just looked at the artists and said ‘Why a cow?’ and she had a great answer” Ms. Sammis said. (Katie Galligan)

While Moss’s mural is intended for their specific community, Mengwall hopes to reach the broader DHS audience. The senior class has had many weighty experiences related to mental health and she felt it was important to leave that as a part of her and the class of 2024’s legacy. 

“I think it’s worth putting something down to have a positive outlook before we leave. So it’s for our grade but it’s also the lessons that we learned in our grade to carry on further into DHS,” Mengwall said.

There were some concerns that the silhouettes in Mengwall’s mural should be painted blue to be more connected to the DHS community, however, she decided to go with her more colorful design. 

“I did initially have [the silhouettes] blue for Blue Wave Pride but I just felt like Blue Wave is so specific to the athletics and so many of us are not Blue Wave,” Mengwall said. “I want more representation of the greater Darien community and that there are artists and other kids who do things that are awesome. You don’t have to be Blue Wave to be Darien.”

While they had very different inspirations and ideas, both Moss and Mengwall’s murals give something important to the DHS community that will outlive their time here. They are expected to finish the murals by January so be sure to take a look as they keep making progress! 

“We present it to the students that they are leaving a gift to the school by painting directly on the wall, something they can’t take with them, they’re leaving this gift to the future classes. It brings color and life into hallways outside of the art room and makes connections with other areas of discipline around the school.” Ms. Sammis said. “It makes people wonder why.” 

So next time you see a mural, stop a moment and appreciate it. Think of the student that once painted it. Maybe even ask yourself: Why was this the legacy someone once wanted to leave behind?

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About the Contributor
Katie Galligan
Katie Galligan, Writer
Katie Galligan is a senior who has been writing for Neirad since the Fall of 2022. She enjoys writing about the arts, music, clubs, and current events in the Darien community. She spends her free time as a ballet dancer at the Darien Arts Center and the Editor-in-Chief of the Current Literary Magazine. She is interested in pursing international relations and journalism in the future.

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