"Because of 26" mural: After the Sandy Hook tragedy, I read in the local paper that there was a group that was trying to organize a mural to honor all the victims. I used Facebook to contact one of the women in the group who had been quoted in the paper. I offered my services and they accepted. The main part of the mural was painted by two artists. 26 individual artists were given pre-cut wooden plaques on which to paint a butterfly (one for each victim). My responsibility was to pick up my plaque, paint my butterfly and return it by the deadline so it could be mounted to the mural. During a big community event in which anyone and everyone was invited to help, I assisted for several hours to get the mural finished and also helped direct young or first-time painters.
This mural is also part of Southington's Rail to Trails Linear Path beautification project. The Linear Path is a paved path, using the old train railways, for people to walk, bike, etc. The arts council works with local businesses to get permission to clean up behind their buildings and to paint murals on the back of the buildings.
The butterfly and general aesthetic of the project are not something I would choose to do in my personal work, but my goal was to contribute to this community effort in whatever manner they wanted me to.
The Mattatuck Museum is an art and regional history museum in Waterbury, CT. I have taught studio classes at the museum and through the museum at other sites. One site was in Waterbury Public Schools. Through a state grant in 2015, WPS was able to partner with the museum to offer the students an after-school Art Club, in which they were able to use materials not typically available to them, visit the museum several times, and receive special lessons from visiting artists. I was one of those visiting artists.
My collaborating teacher at Bunker Hill School enjoyed working with me, so when WPS received a different state grant this spring for Project Art Night, I was offered the job of Teaching Artist at two of the schools.
The Project Art Nights were made possible through a special grant meant to foster student and parent engagement with the arts. Each school had a different theme that was particularly relevant to them and had several stations of interactive art based on their theme. Teaching artists were brought in as a special feature to give the students an opportunity to interact with a professional artist from the community as well as to provide special skills to develop a large-scale, collaborative art project that would expose students to a new art form and/or give them the opportunity to work with materials and ideas they do not normally receive at their school.
Because my primary discipline is painting, for each school, I designed and prepared the underpainting for a 5x10' mural that the students (pre-K through 5th grade) helped paint during the special evening event. The finished murals are now hung permanently in the schools.
Bunker Hill School's theme was Mexican Arts, so the mural incorporated Dia de los Muertos imagery, Spanish/Mexican lace, and lots of bright colors. I really enjoyed working on this mural because the theme and aesthetic is something I would design for my own personal work.
Regan School's theme was a vegetable garden. This design is not something that I would do in my personal work, but it was enjoyable to make something I knew the kids would be excited about and that tied into things they were learning in school.
Dave Therault, a videographer and Waterbury resident, filmed and cut two different videos about the Project Art Nights that recently aired on local TV.