Written by Olena, Fani and Angela
“Teaching through art” is a project that uses art to raise awareness of the importance of protecting nature and the environment.
Eco-themed work of art
We are Olena, Angela and Fani, volunteers of the European Solidarity Corps from Ukraine and North Macedonia. We came to Split to learn, contribute and discover the world, nature and environment in which we live. Through work in Sunce, we came up with the idea of creating an eco-themed work of art that would encourage people to think and emphasize the importance of protecting the environment and nature.
Thinking about the places where this work of art could be realized, we decided that schools could be the right place. Numerous studies have revealed that visual arts have a positive effect on student behavior, stimulate creativity and academic success. And schools often need to freshen up and beautify a wall in the hallway where children spend their daily time. Our project idea was a great solution for that!
The only thing we didn’t know was whether Split schools needed it, whether students and professors would be interested and what was actually needed to make everything successful. We created a digital invitation and sent it by e-mail to schools in Split to ask them to participate in our project. Within two days, we received a response from the first school, and within a week, 5 more schools responded to the invitation. We did not expect so many interested schools, and their responses were positive and full of excitement. In April, we started working with Elementary School Split 3 and the School of Economics and Administration, and we started cooperation with the others at the beginning of the new school year, in October.
The educational workshops
After we answered the questions of the teachers and principals of these schools through meetings, we agreed on the details of the educational workshops with children and the location of the mural. Then we started with workshops with students to get to know each other. At the first workshop, we briefly presented several ecological themes that we had prepared, and the children could choose one of the themes for the mural or give their own idea for the theme.
So far, we have had elaborate educational workshops on the water cycle in nature and water protection, waste management and recycling, endangered plant and animal species and protected areas in Croatia, which were topics chosen by students and teachers.
Drawing a sketch of the mural
After the theoretical part and acquiring knowledge about the chosen topic, the students had the task of drawing a sketch to show how they envision the mural. We wanted the students to be the creators of the mural, and the idea was to combine all the student sketches into one, so that everyone could find an element from their sketch on the mural and explore the topic in more detail.
The first school was Split 3 Primary School. We had excellent communication with the teacher Marija Krstinić, who already had an idea of how to combine our project with her subject (history). She presented to the students how in ancient times the Romans supplied Split with water with the help of an aqueduct, and we combined this with the topic of water circulation and water protection. We finished the mural in this school on June 17, 2022 together with the eighth graders on their way out of school as a reminder to teacher Krstinić of the generation of excellent students she sent off.
The biggest ecological campaign Rezolucija Zemlja
Help in the realization of the mural painting comes through the biggest ecological campaign of the Večernji list called “Rezolucija Zemlja” as well as from the supplier of paints and materials JUB. We have chosen a color for all interior spaces, for painting wall surfaces in children’s rooms, playrooms, classrooms and the like. It was very important to us that the paint is washable and not harmful to people and the environment, which is in line with the goal of this project – to emphasize the importance of protecting nature and the environment. And JUPOL Junior is just such a paint, which is, after all, the first paint on the Slovenian market to receive a European environmental certificate.
The second school with which we started the workshops is the School of Economics and Administration in Split. We held two workshops with students and professor Anita Kružičević. The topic they chose is protected areas and endangered species in Croatia. The students were relaxed and really fun to work with! We have collected the students’ sketches and expect to start painting the mural after the New Year.
The third school was Visoka elementary school where we held two workshops for two generations of students and teachers Katarina Kokan and Mira Voloder. The third school was Visoka elementary school where we held two workshops for two generations of students and teachers Katarina Kokan and Mira Voloder. The topic they chose is the marine ecosystem and its pollution. The students already knew a lot about sea pollution, especially waste and microplastics, but they learned a lot more! The students have completed the sketches and we are waiting for the new semester in 2023 to start painting the mural on the outer wall of the school.
We really enjoyed working with the students, creating and learning together. Thank you very much for their positive vibe, jokes, interest and excellent cooperation. We are extremely grateful to the teachers who responded to our invitation and enabled us to realize our idea together.
In the meantime, we are looking forward to the realization of our art project in the rest of Split’s schools as well!
The project “Solidarity for Green Dalmatia 2021” is financed by the European Union through the European Solidarity Corps program.