By: Bethani Bell
Students at James E. Groppi High School have showcased their art in many ways from the Black Lives Matter mural to other portraits expressing themselves and their outstanding creativity. Principal Hall and Art Teacher Mr. Gass have been prominent advocates in making sure that students have many outlets to highlight and display their talents and receive any guidance necessary to do so.
The Black Lives Matter mural is the perfect example of students not only honoring the many Black lives taken from injustices but also displaying their amazing talent. This opportunity presented by Mr. Gass was a chance for the students to research and understand the lives taken. It was also a chance for students to learn how to portray these lives through art. Through different contrasts, colors, and paint strokes an image can represent more than words. Not only did this piece give students a new perspective it also offered the opportunity for discussions and questions that can be hard to have. It came as a shocking surprise for students to know that this mural would be shown outside of the school for everyone to see.
Mr. Gass expresses how impactful art is. “It gets you in a creative zone,” allowing one to express themselves. Mr. Gass’ philosophy is for students to be centered on their minds and ideas rather than looking at these artworks as an assignment. This has helped students express themselves without judgment and hone their skills.
Principal Hall’s motto “Where everybody is somebody,” is the first statement you will see before entering the high school. Not only reminding students that they are worth more than what society may say but the art shown throughout the building embodies that message. Principle Hall states “you can express yourself here, Groppi High School is a place where young men and women come to heal.” Art is a form of expression for those who feel that they cannot speak, or their words are lost but art can change that. Principal Hall and Mr. Gass have done a wonderful job in providing those students with these outlets in the Near West Side.
Some history behind James E. Groppi High School is that it was named after Civil Rights activist Father James E. Groppi who fought for numerous years for the Open Housing law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which entailed that everyone should have access to open housing no matter gender, race, etc. He marched for those on welfare and many rights issues surrounding different communities. He hated to see the struggles surrounding the community in the north side of Milwaukee with no help coming to those residents. So, with much force, help, and resilience he fought against the system and won.
James E. Groppi High School students are living beyond the name and expectations which we can see with the art shown below.