A stroll down the hallway that connects Target to Pembroke Mall is now like a visit to an art museum, thanks to the efforts of Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) students and art teachers.
The 18-month project, initiated by Fine Arts Coordinator Chris Buhner, was facilitated by an ongoing collaboration with Pembroke Mall and officially opened to the public March 4, in honor of Youth Art Month.
What was once just white walls down a football-field length corridor is now permanently adorned with art panels created by students at 27 VBCPS schools. Each panel represents a collaboration of students and their imagination in representing their individual school.
Zoey Daye, a fifth grader at Creeds Elementary School, explained that her school’s panel was meant to reflect Pungo’s landscape. “It’s beachy and there are farms and stuff,” she said.
“Beautiful farmland,” classmate Austin Brakeman added. “It means we’re a hard-working family and we have fun.”
Old Donation School art teacher Leigh Drake challenged her students to represent three separate programs at their school: academics, art and dance. She was proud of their design and glad to see it displayed publicly.
“It’s great for their self-esteem,” she said. “It’s great for our community to be able to see their hard work and dedication.”
Pembroke Mall’s general manager, Mark Sandy, agreed that community is what this project is all about, and he applauded the 20-year partnership the mall has had with VBCPS.
“This artwork has really made this part of the mall pop!” he exclaimed. “We’ve always prided ourselves on being the family-friendly mall, this is what brings families here.”
The display will be on view for a few years before it’s refreshed or replaced.