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“Pop Can” Murals Unveiled at Carmichaels Area Elementary Center

Carmichaels Mural 2

Students in the Carmichaels Area School District (CASD) have new artwork to enjoy thanks to a unique project that repurposed aluminum soda pop cans to create murals at the district’s elementary center.

These colorful upcycled aluminum can murals were created during a Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media Artist Residency Project with Carmichaels Elementary Center.

The project was led by Metalsmith/Teaching Artist Lindsay Huff in collaboration with 5th grade teachers Dave Bates, Brittney Bell, Tymme Freeman, Kathy Hillsman, Crystal Pratt, and their enthusiastic students. It was supported in part by the Arts in Education Partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additional support was provided via the THRIVE Project and Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania (DVSSP).

Carmichaels Mural 1
Pictured from left to right are Carmichaels Area Elementary School Principal Mr. Berry, Artist Lindsay Huff, and DVSSP Senior Director of Operations Alexandra Brooks

Earlier this year, representatives from DVSSP and CASD discussed the project with students and faculty members to gather input and generate ideas for the mural subjects. The team also met with Huff to review the survey results and plan the designs for the murals.

Mural Making Design and Process

To begin the project, CASD students designed and created mini murals to get familiar with the process and learn how to cut the cans safely. 

Once the survey was completed and the mural subjects were determined, the students worked with Huff to create the murals, which included sculpting the cans, hammering the cans onto to the wood, and painting some of the mural background. 

“It was a joy to create with the students of Carmichaels Elementary Center,” said Huff.

“Using tools like hammers and pliers is a novel experience in the classroom, and allows for students to see how everyday tools and materials can be used in creative ways, which may connect with outside interests or spark curiosity about career choices.”

— Metalsmith/Teaching Artist Lindsay Huff

Carmichaels Mural 3

“A mosaic mural also serves as a beautiful metaphor for creating community in parallel with artmaking. The process allows students and teachers to work side by side, all learning and creating together, and demonstrates that every small piece counts and contributes to something greater,” Huff added.

Mural Unveiling

The murals were unveiled to students, faculty, and community members on May 31. During the unveiling, DVSSP team members announced that the THRIVE Project has secured additional funding and will be continued for the next 5 years.

“On the day that we revealed the art pieces, you could see such excitement and happiness from our students. They were extraordinarily proud of their efforts, and we are so proud of them,” said Carmichaels Elementary Center Principal Marc Berry. “These pieces of art help reflect the legacy that this 5th grade class has left at our elementary school, and we can't wait for the students to stop by next year, and as they progress through middle and high school, to see these artistic masterpieces.”

Future Murals

The ”pop can” murals will not be the final project for students at Carmichaels Area Elementary, thanks to the THRIVE Project. DVSSP has received additional funding from the CDC DELTA AHEAD program to continue this work over the next five years. Plans include an annual artist residency for the 5th grade class, additional opportunities for arts and cultural expression in the community, and work to address economic and housing security in the area.

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