By Erin Culf
One sunny or overcast morning or afternoon during last May or June, a functional or decorative piece was tacked to the wall in the art wing. The piece was hung or cemented before or after (perhaps even during) school, and the associated memo was added either immediately or soon afterwards. No matter what stories you’ve collected over the past 6 or so months regarding its inception, the fact of the matter is this: there is now a good-sized chalkboard in the hallway leading to the ceramics room, and no two people seem to have the same story concerning how it got there.
I, being the Serious-Yet-Playfully-Curious Reporter that I am, decided to get to the bottom of this Spooky Mystery. I booked an appointment with Vice Principal Chace to inquire, but when asked about the chalkboard, Mr. Chase simply stated, “Neither Mr. Podraza nor I have anything to do with the blackboard nor the edict to not write on said blackboard,” which rendered the situation increasingly mysterious. The blackboard has been untouched for months, and yet the “edict to not write on said blackboard” still stands. Originally, it was assumed to be a community project in which students would write or draw on the board to form a collaborative (piece) that essentially described the synergy of East Greenwich High School visually. This, evidently, is not the case- the blackboard has remained untouched for months, and a memo has been posted to it.
Perhaps the simple yet meaningful question, “Why?” scribbled next to the bold print ordering abstinence from writing on the chalkboard describes a commentary all its own: the questioning of an omnipotent yet absent and often counter intuitive government nonentity. The black face of the chalkboard itself, perhaps in a dark New Age twist on the classic bread-mold green color, symbolizes the lack of innocence of the board, implying that the creative outlets of the 21st century have been corrupted by The Government and the minimalist tenets of modern expression. In hastily taping a handwritten order to the chalkboard, a surface that is meant to be written on, the artist enforces the idea of an organized government’s almost anatomic need to structure and censor even the most intuitively creative and vocal outlets. This hyper-authoritative government’s action is juxtaposed with the citizen’s child-like curiosity in asking a question akin to one asked by a three year old. Despite the viewer’s tendency to relate to the citizen for their “nerve” to act out against an oppressive government gone AWOL, the letter is signed by neither the original author nor the questioner, giving both parties a sense of general anonymity and allows the viewer to identify with either one of the writers.
However, even in gleaming this from the genius piece, I, the Serious-Yet-Playfully-Curious Reporter, decided to interview another source: Mrs. Rogers-Merida of the art department. Evidently, contrary to my initial belief, the blackboard is not supposed to be an art piece in itself. Alternatively, it will be painted by students to convey the message, “It all starts with art,” in chalky material, which is why the memo was posted. The rest of the board will be decorated with various designs and images, so it is understandable that the artists would prefer a blank canvas when they begin to work. The details of the timeline surrounding the mural are still largely mysterious, but its intent is now clear, allowing the artistic faction of East Greenwich High School to stop biting their nails over this new addition to their environment.
Rest easy, artists, it’s going to be a mural.