Cross Keys High Celebrates New Mural by Yoyo Ferro

One of Brookhaven’s brightest, unique and reflective murals can now be found on DeKalb County School District (DCSD) property.

cross-keys-yoyo-ferroTitled “Paredes Vivas,” the new 22 by 166 foot mural welcomes students, teachers, staff and stakeholders into Cross Keys High School. Using bold lines, bright colors and vibrant patterns, the mural—designed and painted by local artist Yoyo Ferro and Cross Keys students—reflects the school’s diversity and sense of welcome.

“The idea is to work together and highlight the positive things about Cross Keys,” Ferro said. “Not only that, but show a side that people may not see every day. This is a positive portrait of the school itself because there’s a very positive culture here at the school. My goal with every mural I paint is to make people proud of their community and where they come from.”

Ferro, who is originally from Brazil, engaged with Cross Keys art students in August 2017 to show them how to use a blind contour portrait technique. The technique involves not looking at the paper while drawing a figure in one continuous line.

Students said the method opened their eyes to perspectives they never considered before.

“It was cool how we all connected with each other,” said Joann Dominguez. “It brought students who didn’t know each other [together to] share a good time, laughing and smiling.”

The mural incorporates student designs and maps of the Brookhaven area, including Buford Highway, that have used the blind contour method. According to Ferro, the cohesive design represents the rich cultural diversity at Cross Keys, including two figures holding hands, which represents collaborative success.

students-and-ferroFerro said the mural was one of the easiest to complete because of student involvement. Before the mural was approved, decision makers at DCSD made sure it involved everyone, including Ferro, teachers, staff, students and community members.

“I’ve completed many murals. It’s hard work, and not a lot of people are used to continuously painting,” Ferro said. “For these students, it wasn’t a problem. I have never come across such hardworking people. For me, the mural represents that story: people working together.”

The mural also represents a collaboration with local leaders. DCSD was able to team with Ferro through a partnership with We Love BuHi and Living Walls Atlanta. We Love BuHi advocates for communities along the Buford Highway corridor, while Living Walls demonstrates the power of public art through a series of murals throughout Atlanta.

Cross Keys High officials state the mural is a new representation of hope.

“The donation of this mural to our community—as we are feeling tension from external sources in our world—is a welcome, positive reminder that, together, we are stronger and more capable,” reads a statement from the Cross Keys High School Council.

Ferro said it is the job of artists “to rise” in tense cultural climates to show what each culture has to offer. He hopes the mural can convey such an important message.cross-keys-mural

“My cultural profile is the same as the kids that go to school here,” Ferro said. “The majority are immigrants here. They want to prove something and say, ‘Hey, we’re great!’ That’s why they want to mural here. It’s very touching. I really connected to them.”

Above all, one student, Alexandra Zambrano, said she hoped the mural reflects the passion and heart of all Cross Keys High students.

“Cross Keys is beautiful on the inside,” Zambrano said. “The mural will help make it beautiful on the outside, too.”