Volunteers leave their mark on school lunchroom mural by artist Cbabi Bayoc | St. Louis Public Radio

Volunteers leave their mark on school lunchroom mural by artist Cbabi Bayoc

Dec 30, 2015

St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc is known for painting fathers. But in a new project, he’s painting food.

Vegetables and fruits star in his mural going up in the kindergarten-through-second-grade lunchroom at Confluence Academy-South City, 4235 South Compton Ave.

Emily Schiltz, a speech language pathologist at Confluence Academy-South City, talks with artist Cbabi Bayoc about the mural she's helping paint.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Wednesday, students, staff and others came to help.

Bayoc, known for his “356 Days with Dad” portraits of African-American fatherhood, laid down the black background Tuesday. Wednesday morning, he outlined images of kids munching on apples, carrots and peas just before volunteers starting showing up.

Their job is filling in the images with bright paint. Bayoc will add details when they’re finished. He said it’s important for others to be involved.

“That way, there’s an energy behind it, some ownership,” Bayoc said.

(See what the completed mural will look like, in a rendering, below.)

'Kindergartners scarfing down salads'

Landon Taylor, 5, learns how to mix colors to get just the right shade for the Confluence Academy-South City cafeteria mural by artist Cbabi Bayoc.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Landon Taylor is the 5-year-old son of assistant principal Lacqweda Taylor. The 29-by-10-foot mural includes his favorite food: broccoli. An unusual choice for someone his age, but …

“It tastes like a treat,” Landon explained.

Landon learned to mix paint and finesse his paintbrush. His brother Darion Taylor, 15, was also there to help. He imagines how excited the students will be when they return to school Jan. 5.

“When the kids come here and see the painting, their faces might light up,” he said.

A volunteer colors in a face on the Confluence Academy-South City K-2 cafeteria mural by Cbabi Bayoc.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Teaching assistant Deniece Kemp said the mural has positive messages for the students, most of whom are African American or Hispanic.

“Our kids don’t see themselves in art, and they don’t see themselves in books,” Kemp said. “So I think it’s cool because not only do they see themselves but they see themselves eating healthy, which is another big thing that our kids don’t tend to do a lot.”

Promoting healthy eating is the whole point, according to instructional coach Kristoffer Quint. He said the images reinforce the value of the school’s new fruit and vegetable bar.

“You can see even kindergartners scarfing down salads at lunch,” Quint said.

A rendering of what the Confluence Academy-South City K-2 cafeteria mural by Cbabi Bayoc will look like.
Credit Confluence Academy-South City

Bayoc has been planning the mural since last spring. But a $5,000 fundraising campaign stalled at $850 — only enough for supplies — and the project was put on hold. Then, last month, Bayoc got some good news.

“I won the Regional Arts Commission’s $20,000 grant,” Bayoc said.

Bayoc is one of 10 people to receive this year’s RAC Artists Fellowship award. He plans to use more of the money for future murals, including another at Confluence Academy-South City’s third-through-eighth grade building. He’s open to requests from all other schools.

“Give us two months and this city’s going to be covered in colors,” Bayoc said.

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL