Linwood Holton Elementary art teacher and RVA muralist Chris Milk raising funds for school mural

by | Sep 28, 2016 | ART

With a tight public school budget, Linwood Holton Elementary art teacher Sarah Fought resorted to GoFundMe to finance a mural in the entrance rotunda of the Northside school with the hopes of brightening its atmosphere.

With a tight public school budget, Linwood Holton Elementary art teacher Sarah Fought resorted to GoFundMe to finance a mural in the entrance rotunda of the Northside school with the hopes of brightening its atmosphere.

“It’s not just Holton, but a lot of the schools, they feel so institutional,” Fought said. “It’s cinderblocks and gray paint and it’s not exactly a happy learning environment.”

Local artist and muralist Chris Milk Hulburt, [] who has collaborated with Fought at Linwood Holton before on art projects, will create the mural which will feature a bright, colorful design, bikes painted by Linwood Holton elementary students, and a quote from former governor Abner Linwood Holton.

Still, it’s tough to change the atmosphere of a school with little funding, particularly in Richmond Public Schools.

“It’s not exactly the most supported part of our city, which is very sad, because it’s the most vulnerable parts of our society that are not being served,” Fought said.

Fought acknowledges that despite a limited budget, Linwood Holton’s principal, David Hudson, has made it clear that he wants to support the arts in tangible ways.

Hudson has given his approval and support for murals that Fought has worked on in the past and even, she recalls, used his personal funds to buy a potter’s wheel when she first arrived.

Photo credit: Mitra Bryant Photography

“Anything I need, he really will help to try to make it happen,” she said.

Still, by necessity, Fought is no stranger to using crowdfunding to acquire additional classroom resources. In addition to grants, she has used a site called Donors Choose,a crowdfunding resource specifically aimed at teachers.

With GoFundMe though, Fought hopes to reach a wider audience.

This hope paid off pretty quickly. Shortly after the GoFundMe page began to circulate, a donor called in and offered to loan a lift for the project. Between the lift and monetary donations, the project is now at just under $2,000 of its original project goal of $5,000 according to the page.

“My mission is just to spread joy and happiness into public schools as long as I’m there, as long as I can take it,” said Fought, who’s aiming to strengthen the ties between Richmond Public Schools and local Richmond artists.

RVA painter and muralist Chris Milk Hulburt is thrilled that the rotunda mural is finally about to happen.

“For years, we’ve been talking about and planning and trying to figure out how to do this and there never seemed to be the money for it,” he said. “This year, we finally decided to just do it, just raise the money ourselves.”

And although Hulburt didn’t attend the school as a child himself, it still holds a special meaning to him.

“There was a playground there that I played on, had cub scout meetings,” said Hulburt. “Even as a high schooler, {I} would hang out with my friends there, so I kind of felt a kinship with the school anyway.”

Now, years later, he has family attending the school, so he is particularly excited about making the school a bright and vibrant place for its students.

“I’ve just been really lucky to be involved there,” Hulburt said.

The schedule of the mural’s creation is still up in the air. Fought wants it up as soon as possible, and personally hopes that Hulburt can work on it while the students attend class.

“I’m kind of hoping to have it happen during the school year,” said Fought. “I think that it’s kind of a cool thing for them to see.”

And the school’s art is already beginning to have an impact on the students. Fought spoke of a student who told her last week that, ever since he first saw the mural art already present at the school, he knew he would be happy at Linwood Holton.

“At the end of the day, that’s the whole purpose for this- to make it so that when the children are in school, they know that they’re in a happy place, and a colorful place, and a place that is for them,” she said.

The GoFundMe project page for the Linwood Holton Mural project can be found here, where you can read more and make a donation.

Amy David

Amy David

Amy David was the Web Editor for from May 2015 until September 2018. She covered craft beer, food, music, art and more. She's been a journalist since 2010 and attended Radford University. She enjoys dogs, beer, tacos, and Bob's Burgers references.

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