Artwork for All to See

artwork

Camden eighth-grader Silvia Espinal; Carmen Pendleton, community and artist programs manager for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts; and Brian McAndrews CCAS’14, an art teacher at Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy in Camden, view original artwork that became part of the mural.

Silvia Espinal loves her school’s art classes, but she never thought artwork she produced would hang in a large format for everyone to see.

But drawings and paintings by Espinal, an eighth grader at Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy in Camden, are now on prominent display as part of a 685-foot-long, eight-foot-high mural draped on construction fencing along the Delaware River on the Camden waterfront. “It makes me feel happy that my work is up there,” Espinal said. “I’ve never had it somewhere public like that.”

Espinal is one of more than 300 students from four Camden schools who contributed artwork to the mural that debuted in May. The mural, created under the guidance of the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts (RCCA) in partnership with Liberty Property Trust, will be on display along the waterfront walkway bordering the construction site south of the Ben Franklin Bridge until 2020. In 2019, RCCA plans to exhibit sections of the mural alongside the student artwork on campus.

The project began in fall 2017 when RCCA brought together visiting professional teaching artists with teachers and students at Espinal’s school, as well as Dr. Charles E. Brimm Medical Arts High School, Thomas H. Dudley Family School, and Holy Name School. The RCCA arranged for the students to participate in its museum education program using the Stedman Gallery exhibition, Picturing Camden, as inspiration. When it came time to draw and paint, students were asked to consider “How do you envision Camden’s past, present, and future?”

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Details of student work

In early 2018, the visiting artists—Donna Backues from Philadelphia, Cesar Viveros from Mexico, and Doris Nogueira-Rogers from Brazil—used the students’ artwork to design the separate mural panels. “This was an extremely rewarding project because it allowed us to bring more arts into Camden classrooms,” said Carmen Pendleton, community and artist programs manager for RCCA. “The participating students had the opportunity to work with renowned artists and experiment with painting and drawing techniques using new art materials.”

Espinal certainly enjoyed it, especially seeing what the artists did with her work and that of her classmates. “It was cool how they enlarged it and made it bigger,” she said.

Brian McAndrews CCAS’14, Espinal’s art teacher at Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy, said the mural project had great impact on his students. “Seeing how different artists work was great for the kids, and working with professional artists was good exposure,” said McAndrews, who earned a bachelor of fine arts and his teaching certificate from Rutgers–Camden. “They were really proud to see their work up there.”

McAndrews, who also teaches art in the summer in the Rutgers–Camden Future Scholars program, a pre-scholarship program that annually serves 250 academically promising students from the Camden City School District, said the mural project was a perfect blend combining art, civic engagement, and the university. “It’s just another example of how Rutgers–Camden has affected my life and my students in a really positive way,” he said.

To view the mural, visit the walkway on the Camden Waterfront between Penn and Pearl streets. For information about the mural exhibit on campus scheduled from February 25 through April 19, visit rcca.camden.rutgers.edu.

 

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