TC District's Eagles Nest Intermediate Mural Project

Latvian artist Larisa Aukon brings color and art to life in Tuba City

TUBA CITY ----Born and raised in Latvia, Larisa Aukon has already had her hand in Arizona school sponsored mural work.

Aukon has worked as the artist-in-residence at Killip School in Flagstaff for the past three years, recently completed a project at DeMiquel School in 2001 making a total of eight very large murals for the Flagstaff Unified School District. Now at Tuba City Unified School District's Eagle's Nest Intermediate School this month, she helped design and complete a student mural project on the library wall at the school -- one of three murals planned or the school district.

Aukon, originally was just a visitor to Flagstaff in 1996, doing piece artwork but met her husband and has since come back to stay permanently in this intimate college town community.

While most artists would see such a big art canvas like an entire concrete building wall as fear inducing, Aukon sees it as a challenge to creative sensibilities and a way for students to visualize much larger scale imagination painting possibilities.

In her original country, Aukon says that "art is considered a very prestigious and honored profession."

"There is a great power and education in nonverbal communication and children are very open to that," she said.

Along with the creative aspect of the mural creation, the students learn much about pre-planning such a large project.

Aukon stressed to her mural intern students that "you can throw away mistakes that are on small pieces of paper, but you can't on a large, concrete wall, so careful planning and thought are very, very important."

The Eagle's Nest Intermediate School project will celebrate the Colorado Plateau and is on the fourth-grade building on Main Street.

ENIS students planned, drew and painted the mural under Aukon's supervision. The next large project will start in another week and will utilize the work of both fifth and sixth graders.

Work for these murals will continue during the brief summer vacation months.

The Coconino County Arts Initiative funds the mural project at TCUSD.

An upcoming night of celebration will be planned to include the students, parents and community members when the projects are completed.

ENIS teacher, Pam Jensen is coordinating the overall project on behalf of school Principal Harriet Sloan-Carter.

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