• The Biography Mural Project

    A collaborative painting from Kaiser Elementary School, on view on the first floor of the Alameda County Office of Education

    the biography mural

    The Alameda County Office of Education is proud to present The Biography Mural Project, a project conceived by artist and educator Mary Grace McGhee at Kaiser Elementary School, in collaboration with artist Derrick Shavers. This massive colorful painting depicts nine historical figures who have significantly shaped our world into a better place: Harriet Tubman, George Crum, Garrett Morgan, Charles Drew, Cesar Chavez, Maya Angelou, Kenneth Dunkley, Valerie Thomas, and John Henry Thompson. To create the piece, students engaged in year-long related activities that expanded well beyond painting exercises, including reading, research, discussion, writing math, design, daily youga, relilience instruction, and public speaking.

    The mural is meant to educate the students who participate in its creation as well as viewers so taht they, in turn, can share in the important historical knowledge the mural imparts. Because the mural is portable, it has the potential to travel so that the successes and contributions of the figures represented can be more widely celebrated. Similarly, the mural also sparks insight into possible careers, callings, and areas of study young people might want to pursue, even giving insight into programs, colleges, or universities they might want to attend.

    To date, the project has generated two years worth of original written biographies, original images, and two murals, including the beautifuly mural on view at ACOE.

    About the School

    Kaiser Elementary School is a small, diverse public school in Oakland, California. Children from all over Oakland attend teh school with its tradition of embracing all children and families, and of celebrating the arts.

    Project Participants

    Mary Grace McGhee is an Oakland-based artist and teacher at Kaiser Elementary School. As an artist, she's interested in investigating the nonverbal realities of human life, creating art that depicts and connects her inner and outer vision.

    Derrick Shavers is an artist who lives and works in Oakland. Starting with markers and spray paint, he began writing graffiti and poetry at age 15, and by age 27 he had added a social justice element to each painting and mural. Shavers exhibits his work widely.

    Bobby Batom is a contractor and carpenter who lives and works in Oakland. Batom assisted in installation and travel preparation for The Biography Project Mural.