Piano Meets Paint in Vista’s Art Classes

Vista’s very own Piano of the People, painted by Vista students and staff.

Rachel Madrigal, Staff Writer and Podcast Manager

It’s colorful, it’s heavy, and it can make the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard — or the most out of tune. What is it, you ask? It’s the piano currently residing in Vista’s room G-201.

The piano came to live in Gayle Martin’s classroom around two years ago. Donated by Principal Emmington, the instrument now sits in a corner of the room surrounded by a near-permanent drop cloth, an array of paint pens and glitter. What makes this otherwise ordinary piano special is the vivid mass of images spread across its every surface by art students.



“Since the piano is going to be used by students, it made perfect sense that it should be turned into a work of art by students, and not by some random adult,” said Martin. “This has both unified and inspired all my art students.  Everyone who comes in looks at it and talks about how wonderful and creative it is.  And because it came together so organically, anyone who wants to can put their mark on it — it feels completely inclusive.”

Work on the piano largely began last year in a class of AP Studio Art and Drawing & Painting 3 students. For many of these artists it was their last year of high school before graduation.

My senior year at Vista was my favorite year out of the four,” said former senior Chloe Skarda. “Spending long hours in the art room, listening to the rain on the rooftop, drinking all of Mrs. Martin’s tea and listening to jazz and just laughing and being together were some of the most memorable parts of my high school experience, and the fact that we will always have those memories now etched and painted onto the piano… Well, that’s just so wonderful.”

Amelia Flores, another Vista alumni, shared Skarda’s nostalgic view on the piano. “So it’s the last few days of school and everyone has the blissful calm around them. You know the feeling,” said Flores, “and I’m being smooshed on a piano bench by my closest friends listening to oldies and people are singing. This was a moment that stood still for me. All the things that I love in one moment blended up in this concoction of bliss…I was so lucky that my last high school art project was surrounded by such a wonderful memory!”


In the near future, students will have the ability to make their own memories like those of Skarda and Flores. “As soon as we are finished (and I put a varnish on it) [the piano] will move to the student union, for the use and enjoyment of any and all of the student body,” said Martin.

The art teacher does have one request before releasing the piano. “We don’t need any help,” said Martin, “and we are almost finished, but what we do need is for readers to be protective of the piano when it gets to the union.  A lot of commitment and creativity went into it, and we would feel bad to see it vandalized or messed up.”

[The piano]  makes me even more determined to do some large-scale art around the school,” said Martin, “and I will try to remember the lesson that we don’t have to have iron-clad control and pre-planning — that bringing some spontaneity makes the work stronger.”
For those looking to be involved in potential future projects, see Art Club on most Thursdays after school in G-201 or visit Martin in G-201 during A-lunch.