Art Teacher's Door Decorations Celebrate Black History Month
Last year she got national attention for her creations. This year she stepped it up.
The halls of Lake Alfred Elementary School in Lake Alfred, FL just got a lot more colorful, thanks to the bold creations of Chanique Davis, the school's art teacher.
Last year, the elementary school teacher got national attention for the door decorations she created to celebrate Black History Month. This year she's doing even more.
Davis poses in front of the door she created in 2019. Chan Occena/Facebook
"Decorating doors and teaching [students] about culture allows me to mold and shape their minds, and their hearts to be respectful and kind," Davis, 32, told GMA.
This year, she expanded the project to include two doors and part of a hallway.
In addition to her job as art teacher, Davis is a licensed hair braider, so she decided to dedicate one of the doors to natural hair and the different protective hairstyles that are an important part of African American culture.
"Last year, I wanted to pay tribute to the natural hair movement. My goal was to really just show awareness and talk about the beauty in the culture of 'Locs' because there is so much controversy with 'Locs' being allowed in schools and in corporate America," Davis said.
Davis uses construction paper, spray paint and other 3-dimensional elements to make her vibrant murals, including actual hair extensions that she uses to create natural hairstyles for her portraits of black women with various skin tones.
The second door that Davis created is a tribute to media entrepreneur Tyler Perry who recently opened "Tyler Perry Studios," a state-of-the-art production studio in Atlanta, GA. The door features a portrait of Madea, a character created and portrayed by Perry in his films.
Davis honored the life and work of Tyler Perry this year. Chan Occena/Facebook
The portrait features carefully placed, painted gray curls that frame Madea's face, and glasses made of real glass beads.
Davis says Perry's story is an example of determination and perseverance, one she knows will resonate with her students. Davis also has something in common with the media mogul – they both experienced homelessness in their lives.
"His story is of overcoming homelessness and that is part of my story. I was homeless for three years when I was younger," Davis shared. "So, sharing his story and sharing my story go hand-in-hand in teaching the children that just because you started from a place doesn't mean you have to stay there."
Davis says that while she's happy her doors are getting attention, her main goal is to educate her students about the importance of culture and diversity, and to recognize the beauty within other cultures.
Davis plans to grow her project even further this year and create doors to celebrate other cultures, including Hispanic Heritage Month and National Native American Heritage Month.
Davis created a door in honor of Cuban singer Celia Cruz for Hispanic Heritage Month.Chan Occena/Facebook
"Just being tolerant isn't enough," she said. "I want them to be appreciative of the beauty of people who are different than them."
What a beautiful way to celebrate Black History Month while teaching her students to love and respect other cultures. We can't wait to see what creations Davis will come up with next!