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First year students at MECA engage community with mural project

Posted: 2012-10-03

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This striking new mural recently appeared as a result of a community partnership and MECA's Public Engagement efforts at the corner of Preble Street and Cumberland Avenue, a block off of Monument Square.

Two of MECA’s FY-In sections have teamed up with Wright Ryan to create a temporary public installation on the exterior of the new Preble St Teen Center. Paul Gebhardt and Adam Manley’s classes collaborated to create a 48 foot Mural to be mounted on the side of the building at the corner of Preble and Cumberland Streets. Students worked together to come up with a mural spoke to both the residents of the center and the general population of Portland. After a group brainstorming session, the students were divided into groups of two, each of which was assigned a letter, as well as a language commonly spoken in Portland to act as a visual prompt for the painting of their letter. The mural is divided into 4’ x 4’ squares, each containing one letter, and the individual artworks that developed around each of these letters is based on the students’ extensive research into the visual language of the assigned cultures.

The building is being renovated to become the Preble Street Resource Center's new Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter. But the mural is actually a collaboration between Wright-Ryan Construction and this year's freshman class at the Maine College of Art.

Wright-Ryan superintendent Rob Barrett was a driving force behind the initiative.  He said,  "The building renovations required his crew to remove the first-floor facade and erect a temporary plywood shed. Instead of having a blank wall, it seemed like a perfect canvas for a community art project, so I contacted a couple of instructors at MECA. Members of the freshman class then teamed up in pairs to paint the mural's individual panels, each of which honors a different nationality from the diverse immigrant community at the nearby Portland High School."

"It was a way to get incoming freshmen introduced to Portland, and introduced to the Preble Street Resource Center, with a community-based arts project," explains Barrett.

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