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Arts Getting Messy

“You’re going to get dirty,” warns Eli, a student in ASPIRA’s Work Ready program.

Take that warning seriously, folks!  When we arrived on the scene at ASPIRA’s offices on North 5th street we found students working in a whirlwind of cement and tile debris, the radio playing the background giving a palpable rhythm to the work.  It was pretty obvious the students were having fun. “I like doing hand-on work,” explained Vanessa, one of the young artists working on the mosaic.

Of the three Work Ready opportunities ASPIRA is offering youth this summer, their service-learning project has engaged students in creating a mural.  At the end of the school year, ArtZone coordinator Ambrose Liu put ASPIRA in touch with local Olney mural artist, Jonny Buss.  Under Jonny’s guidance, students have been working since July 1st to complete a mosaic mural depicting things loved by their community. 

The group of eager young artists have been working four days each week to create this piece, executing not only the mural’s design, but also its tile sizing, assembly, and eventual mounting on the ASPIRA’s building façade in place of several windows that, until this point, have been cinder block arches.

“We started with the theme,” explained another student, Jayleen. “We knew we wanted it to be about ‘community’.  We found symbols to represent that.”

She emphasized that strong teamwork and communication skills were developed by the group in this process, in order to make sure everyone’s voice was heard and they actually got things done.  “If you cooperate it’ll be faster and come out better,” Eli pointed out.  The students decided to focus on symbols for Love, Peace, and Unity, as well as a way to feature ASPIRA’s logo.

“You’ve got to have patience,” added Vanessa. “Cementing the pieces on,” Eli elaborated, “you have to cut it just right.” Vanessa went on, acknowledging “I didn’t know it was going to take that long, but once we got the pieces on the board, it was a quick process.”

In addition to the mural project, ArtsRising is assisting ASPIRA in setting up a tour of the Abington Arts Center’s outdoor sculpture park and gallery, whose summer program Jonny Buss is also teaching at.

The mural-making process will culminate at ASPIRA’s Community Resource Fair, scheduled for August 8th from 12:00-3:00 pm.  ArtsRising will, once again, be on the scene for the mural’s unveiling.  We hope to see you there!

Want to know more about ASPIRA? Check out their web site here.

Stay tuned for details on ASPIRA’s Community Resource Fair.