In the Fall of 2005 artist and art educator Perez-Rubio was commissioned to create a mural that would promote athletic virtue and celebrate the Swimming and Water Polo teams at the Miami Country Day School. I was invited to work with students from the National Arts Honor Society on this project over one semester. After several abstract designs inspired by water and water sports we returned to the greek theme. I was fortunate to develop the concept with the help of Bill Lazalere, Upper School Art Teacher, and his students. Anybody who has been to school in the Western Tradition, experienced basic home schooling or online education should be familiar with the amazing legacy of the Greek civilization. The founders of the Olympic games, we thought that using their art as inspiration was fitting. After looking at classical Greek art we decided to apply an earlier geometric art that was popular during Homeric times from Egypt to the Iberian Pennisnula. This "pre-historic" design highlights the antiquity of the Spartan myth and because of its lose simplicity it really brings out the natural lines of what is otherwise a drab yet impressive and functional building. Below is the site before development and one of many sources of inspiration for this project.

(ABOVE) Site before development: the side of the Athletic Center facing the Pool Area at the Miami Country Day School.


(ABOVE)8th Century BC Attic Pottery and the paintings of Cuban painter Jose Bedia serve as inspiration for the space.

(BELOW)Click below to see one of the working drawings we used to map out the content and the design around the pool.

"Who were the Ancient Spartans and why should we care? The events of September 11 2001 jolted many of us into rethinking what was distinctive and distinctively admirable - or at least defensible - about Western Civilization, values , and culture. Some of us were provoked into wondering aloud whether any definition of that civilization and its cultural values justify our dying for them, or even maybe killing for them. Those of us who are historians of ancient Greece wondered this with especial intensity, since the world of ancient Greece is one of the principal tap roots of Western civilization. As JS Mills put it, the Battle of Marathon, fought in 490 between the Athenians and the invading Perisians, was much more important than the Battle of Hastings, even as an event in English history.
So too was the battle of Thermoplylae ten years later. This was a defeat for the small, Spartan-led Greek force at the hands of the overwhelmingly larger force of Persian invaders, yet it gave great hope of better times to come, and its cultural significance is inestimable. Thus one not insignificant reason why we today should care who the ancient Spartans were, is that they played a key role in defending Greece and so preserving from foreign and alien conquest a form of culture or civilization that constitutes one of the cheif roots of our Western civilization. "

from Paul Cartledge The Spartans, the Overlook Press.NY2003

Apprentice Program and Community Service Hours with the Art Honor Society @MCDS

Working with students from the Art Honor Society and Mr. Lazelere's AP and Art and Design class we were able to transfer the drawing and lay the foundation for the design on the surface. Painting followed as we "pushed and pulled" the drawing to blend with the surroundings and create the illusion of a more intimate space between the main atheltic building and the pool area.

(ABOVE) Students from the Art Honor Society meet for the First Saturday Session January 7th 2006

(ABOVE) Art and Design Students helping during school hours.

(ABOVE)By Tuesday January 18, 2006 the design is starting to take shape. The giant squid - or sea monster - represents defeat whereas the trophy or water jar represents victory.

(ABOVE)View of Mural in progress with pool in foreground.The red lines on the wall "extend" the swimming lanes and the two point perspective represents thevalley of Thermopylae where the Spartans made their stand against the invading Persians.

(ABOVE)The relation between the athletes and the warriors begins to take place. The sheild was the one piece of equipment that was most important to the ancient Spartan; not for its defense of the wearer but for the defense of your neighbor.

(ABOVE)Overview of final red line before blue trim is added and details included. The water signs are clear and the sign is starting to look alright in English and the Greek. The two crowns are there b/c Sparta was the only ancient democracy that had two royal families and they ruled in tandem. The Spartan Mural is to be completed by mid February.

(ABOVE)View of the center before the blue trim is added. Below the English reads "Home of the Spartans" in Greek. The double crowns are there because Sparta was one of two Greek democracies that ruled with two royal families - and yet remained a democracy.

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