Celebrating Belonging & Diverse Community

An elementary school mural that celebrates their diverse community — each student is unique AND part of the whole.

The Concept

Based on the children's book, Only One You, by Linda Kranz, this underwater-theme was a perfect way to demonstrate how we each come from different places, have our own experiences, cultures and upbringings. It's our uniqueness that makes us special.

At the same time, we all exist in the ocean together, and no one is more important than anyone else. Our connection is what strengthens the whole.

Before & After

The school's principal had a vision for an ocean scene to fill their drab cafeteria, so the kids had something beautiful to look at every day.

The project included a two-day artist residency where each student, teacher, administrator, and staff member painted rocks to look like fish — each one a colorful expression of individual creativity.

Each fish was then glued to panels and hung on the wall to look like they were swimming in the sea. Parents also got to paint their own fish at Family Literacy Night.

"I adore the mural and how much beauty and love it brings to the space..."

"Sarah took the vision I had and made it a reality.  She and her team were absolutely fantastic to work with. Thank you SO much for making our cafeteria a more beautiful place that represents our students and families!"

– Lisa Clingan, School Principal

Details of Underwater Friends

  • Teaching Belonging

    Before we began the rock painting process, I talked to the students about loving ourselves and being kind on the inside; how art and life is more fun when we work together; and why there are only 'happy accidents' in being creative.

  • Painting with Students

    What a magical experience to guide 300+ kinder through 5th graders and watch their creativity come to life! So many different variations on a theme. The respect and admiration I have for educators everywhere expanded ten fold.

  • Calling in Community

    Working with Principal Lisa was so inspiring! The way she included the parents and organized a whole evening event to connect the community took the mural to another level of co-creation. Dedicated to uplifting students in every way.

Belonging in 6 Different Languages

To add another layer of inclusivity we translated "You Belong" into Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Vietnamese and Somali (based on the schools enrollment and the languages spoken at home) and painted those on the mural.

The Team

I couldn't have done it without my amazing friend and super talented artist, Amy Scott Olson. She brought so much energy and life to this under sea world.

From the creatures, to the coral, even painting hidden hearts for the kids to discover, Amy's hands were all over this mural.

This was the biggest scale art project I'd ever attempted and I'm beyond grateful for the many people that helped out along the way!

Let's make something beautiful!

Would you like to see something like this at your school or workplace? Shoot me an email to discuss a future project.

Contact Sarah Love