Irish Elementary Escuela Bilingüe mascot brought to life by local muralist

After months of planning and dreaming, Irish Elementary Escuela Bilingüe has its very own Armando Silva mural that will represent the school’s spirit for decades to come.

In place of a plywood cheetah that once graced the space, a stoic jaguar now lies next to two children, brought to life with house paint and acrylic latex. The animal stretches out across the brightly colored scene, located near the school’s main lobby.

Irish was proud to add the mural to celebrate its dual-language program and beloved community. Silva was the perfect artist to bring this dream to life, recently finishing the new mural in a magical realism style, something that is typical in Latin American culture. A Greeley-based artist who was born in Sombrerete, Zacatecas, Mexico, Silva tells stories and inspires children through art.

  • Armando Silva works on a mural at Irish Elementary.
  • Artist Armando Silva talks with children in front of the mural at Irish Elementary.
  • Artist Armando Silva works on a mural at Irish Elementary.
  • Artist Armando Silva talks with children in front of the mural at Irish Elementary.
  • Artist Armando Silva works on a mural at Irish Elementary.

David Autenrieth, assistant principal at Irish Elementary Escuela Bilingüe, oversaw the project and said that Irish wanted something that “represents us and our community.”

Before work on the mural started, the school had multiple feedback sessions with Silva and provided open forums for the community and students to share what they desired in this mural. Adriane Compton, art teacher at Irish Elementary, instructed the fourth- and fifth-grade classes to develop their own original paper-sized murals. These were shared with Silva for inspiration.

Surveys were also conducted, and a Parent Teacher Organization mural subcommittee was formed. The school raised a record amount of money – over $2,000 – through a virtual art auction, for which students and parents donated or created art. This mural is truly a school-driven piece, Autenrieth said.

As Silva worked, students “oooed” and “ahhhed” his fast work over the course of a week to create this masterpiece. During his time at Irish, Silva also conducted question-and-answer sessions with each class, presented the concept behind the mural and discussed careers as an artist.

Bringing this process full circle, the small murals that students created will also be displayed across the hallway from the new mural, a point of pride for this school community.