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Art and Design Students Create a Mural for Children

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Inspired by the University’s Vincentian Mission, St. John’s students in the Department of Art and Design have created an outdoor mural expressing the optimistic vision of a local child care center dedicated to the social and intellectual growth of young learners.

Ten students from the Studio Seminar I art course put in over 50 hours creating a mural adorning the building that houses Bright Beginnings in Queens Village, Inc. (BBQV). Guided by Claudia Sbrissa, M.F.A., Professor of Art and Design, the project is part of St. John’s Academic Service-Learning program, offering students real-world experience through course-related, site-based volunteer activities.

Sbrissa’s class got involved when Bright Beginnings contacted the AS-L office. “They’re a community partner of ours, so we’ve already hosted a number of student volunteers,” said Morgan Zajkowski ’13C, ’14G, a former Ozanam Scholar at St. John’s who now serves as BBQV’s Community Engagement Coordinator. “As an alumna, I was eager to expand our relationship with the University.” 

The mural represents the cycle of the four seasons. Students in Sbrissa’s class developed the concept after several site visits and frequent discussions with BBQV Center staff. “We decided as a group that the seasons would be our mural theme,” observed Tiffany Carlo ’18CPS. “We incorporated words and other features into the imagery to encourage the learning process of young children.” 

“The students did a terrific job,” Sbrissa said. “This class project reflects various course objectives including professional development, individual artistic growth, and collaborative working methods inspired by the University’s Vincentian Mission.”

In addition to creating the mural, students prepared proposals, ordered supplies, and taught specialized workshops they designed and implemented to help each other better understand the mission of the center and connect with its children.

The murals adorn a wall overlooking a garden in the center’s playground. “It’s turned a blank, brick wall into something that’s visually very stimulating,” said Erica Sommers, Executive Director of BBQV. “It strengthens our efforts to heighten the children’s senses.”

 “The mural beautifully weaves together themes we’ve connected to our school garden,” Zajkowski stressed. “It’s an important space for developing early literacy, and we are endlessly thankful to Professor Sbrissa, her art students, and the AS-L Office at St. John’s.”