Walter Johnson art – a travel through time


This mural of cows grazing in a field is hangs near the gym on the main level of the school. This piece of art is one of the many that students question the origin. Photo by Jessica Silverman

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the art displayed at WJ. Most of the time, we walk through the hallways without a second thought, causally observing what’s there, but never taking the time to appreciate it or wonder about its history.

From the cow mural near the gym, to the American flag made of cans, there’s a lot of unique pieces of art at WJ and students here have some questions about them.

Sophomore Bradley Woodside is an art student at Walter Johnson who is currently taking Studio Art 2. He’s planning to take the class all the way up to AP Studio Art. Woodside has seen a mural by the gym that has caught his eye ever since he was a freshman, and wonders about the origin of it.

“I really want the origin story of the giraffe licking an icicle, the tape mural in the gym hallway. It’s really really cool and it’s been here ever since I was a freshman and it’s still there,” Woodside said.

Senior Shoval Gurvitz has been taking art classes since she was a freshman. She’s taken both Studio and Digital Art all the way through AP. She also wonders about a specific piece of art at the school. In the art hallway, there is a painting the size of the wall of a man in a medieval dress holding a skull.

“[I wonder about] the [painting] right outside of this room. It’s kind of Shakespearean in a way. It’s always been there. It doesn’t seem like traditional visual art, it seems like performance-y,” Gurvitz said.

While students may be in the dark about some of the art around WJ, Digital Art teacher Paul Engelhardt knows a lot about the origins of specific pieces around the school. Engelhardt has been working at WJ for 10 years. He explains the story behind the sculpture of a cow in a display case next to the Student Commons. The sculpture has artwork printed on it of a design made by a student for a contest.

“Well I do know the stories behind most of the art at WJ like the cow. The cow was a contest I think from some dairy company and the students submitted designs. They chose winning designs from all around the country I believe. If you won, they shipped you a blank, white cow to apply your design,” Engelhardt said.

No matter what the history of some of the art is around WJ, we should still stop and appreciate the unique and talented work of our students.