Blossom: the Founders Bridge Mural at Manhattan College

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BLOSSOM, THE FOUNDERS BRIDGE MURAL Unveiling Celebration Wednesday, May 18th, 4:00 PM Manhattan College, Thomas Hall 4513 Manhattan College Parkway Riverdale, NY 10471 Creative Art Works Teaching Staff Jessie Novik, Teaching Artist Lauren Genutis, Teaching Artist Assistant Manhattan College Youth Apprentices Natalia Alvarez Taylor Brethauer Liz Bruchansky Leah Codova Robert Constant Daniel Dixon Jean Manning Cheyenne McElhiney Carlos Perez Leah A. Reiner Paul Roditis Allison Tantakarn Mark A. Pottinger, Ph.D., chair of the visual and performing arts department, directed campus participation and community outreach for the Blossom Mural project.



What a journey this has been. It all started rather innocently when a student, a Physics Major no less, came to my office in 2015 to ask if we can find a way to create a mural on campus. Fast forward one year later and here we are, basking in the colors and the sophistication of our first studentled public artwork in the history of the campus! I would like to thank the President of the College, Dr. Brennan O’Donnell; the Executive Vice President and Provost, Dr. William Clyde; Vice President for Missions, Brother Jack Curran; Vice President for Facilities, Dr. Andrew Ryan; Vice President for Enrollment Management, Dr. William Bisset; Vice President for Student Life, Dr. Richard Saterlee; the Assistant Vice President for Student Life, Dr. Emmanuel Ago; the Assistant Vice President for College Advancement, Lydia Gray; the Senior Marketing & Communication Content Manager, Julie Achilles; the Director of Student Life, Andrew Weingarten; and Brian Conway of Gourmet Dining Services for their support of the project from the very beginning, who never questioned the why and only provided the how. I would also like to thank the dean of the School of Liberal Arts, Dr. Keith Brower, and all my faculty colleagues across the campus for both their encouragement and financial support. You allow me to hold my head high to say that I belong here and this is my college. Thanks are also reserved for the ever-imaginative team at Creative Art Works, including Brian Ricklin, Karen Jolicoeur, Michelle Yun-Hee Proffit, Lance Paladino, and Scott Lucas. Their profound artistic vision and education-based mission helped the college not only define the look of the mural but more importantly helped all of us to come together to create a lasting visual legacy that articulates who we are and what we desire to be. And finally, and most assuredly, thanks and praise must go to the teaching artists and the students. From day one, they never tired to ask questions, roll up their sleeves, think deeply about themselves, grab a paintbrush and some tape, and paint. The mural is a testament to their creativity and serves to empower all members of the college community on the value of a Lasallian-based education. From first year students to seniors, the student muralists represent the academic and cultural diversity of the campus and what happens when all of us come together and say with a collective voice, “WE can do this!”


FROM BRIAN RICKLIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CEO CREATIVE ART WORKS The mission of Creative Art Works is to improve the lives of young people through creative development and build profound connections with art and community; that mission aligns beautifully with Lasallian principals. I first became aware of this confluence of idealism during early discussion with Dr. Pottinger. But while it is one thing to share a common goal, it is quite another thing to see that goal manifested in truly beautiful actions, which is exactly what I experienced through my interactions with everybody at Manhattan College. One of the questions we asked applicants for the Founders Bridge Mural project was, “Why do you want to participate in this program?” The vast majority of this diverse group, from all parts of the college with varied interests and backgrounds, gave two reasons – to make more friends and to create something of meaningful legacy at the college. That spoke volumes to me. The first answer indicates a commitment to be part of the Manhattan College community in the present, while the second indicates a commitment to remain part of community in the future. Neither the college nor the youth had ever before created large-scale public art. All have, however, been steadfastly committed: the dedicated, faithful and passionately interested administration, the tirelessly student-focused and creative Dr. Pottinger and the students who are all smart, driven, strong, persistent and truly talented. There was real integrity and great breadth to the stakeholder research; the community cared to have voices heard and genuine investment in what this visual narrative should say. The young artists really listened, negotiated and, together with our CAW team, created a thoughtful design, which was stunningly presented to the administration for approval. I hope you will now enjoy the completed art, celebrate these young artists, and share pride in how so many contributed to the mural’s realization. Thank you for making Creative Art Works and community art-making part of your story and entrusting us with this exciting venture, which not only activated a lifeless space, but, I hope and believe, helped to fuel a creative fire in this vibrant and caring community.


ABOUT THE MURAL The Founders Bridge Mural was conceived by the students, faculty and administration of Manhattan College to welcome visitors to the campus, to activate a public space and to communicate the deep affection and fellowship that members of the College community feel for their school. Students were involved in every step of the creation process. An extensive outreach to the campus community resulted in the completion of some 200 surveys that helped inform general and specific visual elements of the design. The 12 student volunteers who painted the mural represent a robust cross-section of the diverse student body. Truly, this is a work of public art by the community for the community. The subject and theme of the mural is the College’s 163 year-old mission of inclusion, diversity and social justice in higher education. At the center of the mural is a large five-pointed star, which represents the five core Lasallian principles: quality education, concern for the poor and social justice, inclusive community, faith in the presence of God, and respect for all persons. The dozens of smaller stars descending from the large star to fill the pages of an open book are a metaphor for the five core principles filling the hearts and minds of students as they enter to learn and leave to serve. The bench is an invitation to sit and contemplate. The far left side of the mural features an image of the 1 train which brings students to the nearby 242nd Street-Van Cortlandt Park MTA Terminal. On a deeper level, the subway is a metaphor for the start of the day, and, by extension, beginning the process of higher education. The train passes through an arch, and this arch motif is repeated on the far right of the mural, which features images of the campus quadrangle, including the roof and cupola of the Chapel of De La Salle and His Brothers. Both sides of the mural are connected by the silhouette of the Manhattan skyline as seen from the College; this is in contrast to the cherry blossoms, which indicate that the campus is a suburban oasis in the midst of the sprawling metropolis. The pattern inside the pair of clasped hands behind the star refers to the stained glass windows in the Chapel of De La Salle and His Brothers. The windows were created in the early 1900s but were only recently installed in the Chapel. The black squirrel earned a place on the mural not only because it is a common sight on campus, but because it also serves as a metaphor of God’s presence in even the smallest of His creations. The mural is a testament to the creativity of all Manhattan College students and serves to empower members of the College community on the value of a Lasallian-based education, which inspires and brings hope to our world. 6


Natalia Alvarez Natalia is from San Juan, Puerto Rico. She just finished her freshman year at Manhattan College. She is majoring in International Studies with a concentration on Global Issues. Natalia is part of the new Performing and Visual Arts Community on campus. She enjoys everything involving visual and performing art including dancing, making mosaics, and painting. Natalia got involved in the Mural Project because she wanted to be part of a something that will be remembered on campus for many years. She feels like she has begun to leave her mark at Manhattan College.


Elizabeth Bruchansky Liz is currently an undergraduate student at Manhattan College. She is a Computer Science Major and a Digital Media Art Minor. Liz is estimated to graduate in May of 2018. Her interests outside of her studies include soccer, photography, and dancing. She has been active in the performing arts for most of her life, so the Manhattan College Mural Project is the first of its sorts for her.

Taylor Brethauer Taylor is a Freshman from Baltimore, MD, pursuing a major in Communications with a minor in Film Studies and Digital Media Art. She writes and edits for The Quadrangle, Manhattan Magazine, HerCampus MC and The Odyssey Online. She is a member of the Lasallian Collegians, Agape Latte and the Manhattan Cheerleaders. She is also an Orientation Leader Class of 2020. Taylor joined the Founders Bridge Mural project because she wanted to meet more people and be part of something that she will be able to point out to friends and family for years to come.


Leah Cordova Leah is a junior majoring in English with a double minor in Urban Studies and Film Studies. Leah is a visual arts editor for Manhattan College’s literary magazine and also posts her experiences on Instagram. Blossom is her first large-scale art project and she feels humbled to have worked with a bright, energetic group of people. She is thrilled that the Manhattan College green space is featured in the mural, as it reminds her of home in Florida. Leah would like to thank Dr. Savoy and Dr. Lerer for their terrific courses on Art History and Contemporary Art, which further inspired her to create art and experience it with others. Her first two years at Manhattan College have exposed her to wonderful people, places, and skills.

Robert Constant Robert is a Senior Philosophy major. An Artist as well, Robert’s interests span music production, graphic design, poetry and drawing. Robert had experimented with painting before joining the Founders Bridge Mural team, but this is his first collaborative painting. Robert joined the project in hopes of gaining experience in the field of professional art and to gain new art experiences. He bids love and peace to his brethren.


Daniel Dixon Daniel is a mechanical engineer who will be entering his junior year in the fall of 2016. Born a triplet, he hails from Brookfield, CT. Involvement on campus includes painting the mural, secretary of the Mini Baja, future Resident Assistant and one of two divers on the Men’s Swimming team. He is fascinated by anything that moves, and has a keen eye for detail. He joined the mural group in hopes of making new friends, and to be a part of something permanent. When he’s not at school or in the library, you will most likely find him working under his car at home.

Cheyene McElhiney Cheyenne is a junior majoring in psychology and minoring in art. She has taken several art classes since she was a freshman in high school favoring ceramics, drawing, and photography. When Cheyenne graduates, she plans to go to grad school for holistic psychiatry. She hopes to incorporate her interest in holistic medicine into her clinical psychology practice.


Jean Manning Jean is a Physics major with math and digital media arts minors. She is from Boston but has come to love New York City like a second home. She loves drawing in her free time and exploring the city. She hopes to one day have a career that combines her passion for both art and math. Her greatest inspiration is her mom, Lynne, a jeweler who owns her own business. Lynne has showed Jean that with hard work and a supportive family you can accomplish anything.

Carlos Perez Carlos is a senior Secondary Education major with a concentration in Biology. He has worked on over 20 theater productions with the Manhattan College Players and has lead theater elective classes for Upward Bound in Gill, MA. He is a Resident Assistant for the Performing Arts and Visual Culture community, and a member of the Pen and Sword Society. He hopes to teach high school biology and to be a theater director. He was excited to join the mural team, because he wanted to leave his mark on the college. He is inspired by his mother, who taught him how to be a better person. Carlos wishes to thank his family, friends, faculty and mentors for all of their wisdom and support. He also wants to thank Jessie and Lauren and his fellow team mural members for making this experience one that will make it into his memoir. 11

Leah A. Reiner Leah is a freshmen from Bergen Country, NJ who is majoring in International Studies. Her art of choice is digital illustration. She has been making art since high school. Leah found out about the Founders Bridge Mural project while shooting and editing a video in the art department and decided to take the opportunity to be part of this project. Her favorite course in college is Philosophy.

Allison Tantakarn Allison is a freshman from Queens, NY, studying Electrical Engineering. She is involved with the Society of Women Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. She enjoys making noise music during her free time. Her dream job is to work for MakerBot. She got involved in the Founders Bridg Manhattan mural project Mural Project because she wanted to be a part of something memorable for Manhattan College.


Paul Roditis Paul is a junior biology major from Seaford, New York. Art has been a part of his life since a young age, with a concentration on detailed pencil drawing. Paul designed the agenda book for his middle school and was a designer for his high school yearbook. Paul was also voted most artistic by his senior classmates. The Founders Bridge Manhattan mural project was a way for him to express his artistic passion and to connect with likeminded, talented students.

Mark A. Pottinger, Ph.D. Mark is an Associate Professor of Music and Chair and Founder of the Visual & Performing Arts Department at Manhattan College. He is the author of a number of publications on the music and culture of nineteenth-century France, including The Staging of History in France. His current book project, Romantic Science: Nineteenth-Century Opera in the Age of Becoming examines the role of the natural sciences in defining the understanding of the supernatural in early Romantic opera. Winner of the prestigious Berlin Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin, Dr. Pottinger will be in residency in Berlin during the spring 2017 semester. An ardent lover of all things French, Dr. Pottinger teaches in Paris during the summers, presenting lectures at several historic venues throughout the city. 13

Jessie Novik, CAW Teaching Artist Jessie has taught in-school and outof-school time programs for Creative Art Works since 2015 and has served as Program Coordinator. This is her sixth mural with CAW. Jessie earned a BFA from Alfred University, the NY State College of Ceramics, where she concentrated in painting and sculpture. After receiving her Masters of Professional Studies in Art Therapy and Creative Development from Pratt Institute, Jessie worked as an art therapy intern at Lutheran Medical Center and at League Education and Treatment Center. Jessie often uses art to reflect the landscapes, characters and narratives that consume her rich imagination. She seeks to induce in her viewers the same euphoric sense of escape that she indulges in when she creates.

Lauren Genutis, CAW Teaching Artist Assistant Lauren Genutis has been working with youth since 2006. She has taught inschool and out-of-school time programs for Creative Art Works since 2015, and helped develop CAW’s “Art Around the World” curriculum. While this is Lauren’s first public art program with CAW, she is no stranger to large-scale art. Lauren specializes in sculptural fabrication and has helped produce costume relief sculptures and props for music videos such as Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” and several featuring Beyoncé. Lauren also has considerable experience with life casting and recently produced a fullbody cast of Olympic swimmer Lauren Perdue. She also assisted in fatiguing Richard Serra’s monumental sculpture at Gagosian Gallery.



Lasallian Catholic: Manhattan College is a Lasallian educational institution founded in 1853 by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious teaching order started by Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of teachers. De La Salle is known as the innovator of modern pedagogy for his work establishing schools to educate disadvantaged children in 17th century France. New York City Location: Our lush, 23-acre campus in Riverdale offers a safe and secure home base that’s within arm’s reach of the greatest city in the world — New York. Education at Manhattan College has a strong focus on practical, experiential learning. Students are spoiled for choice when it comes to internships, summer placements and the chance to gain real-world skills in your future workplace. Our connections to the upper echelons of New York City offer invaluable career connections, as well as a backstage pass to this vibrant, magnificent metropolis. Educating Hearts and Minds: Meet 3,500 fellow students from more than 40 different countries as you get involved in our dynamic student life and the diverse array of opportunities to serve. The chance to practice a compassionate and active approach to faith, with a view to building a more just and generous world, is at the heart of Manhattan College. Because we believe true success comes from cultivating a brilliant mind and a brilliant heart. We promise to provide you with all the tools you need to help make your world a better place.


Creative Art Works (CAW) improves the lives of thousands of NYC youth each year through in-school and out-of-school-time classes, community art-making events, and youth employment creating large-scale public art or multimedia projects. Working in public schools, community centers, parks and libraries, CAW provides dynamic arts experiences for youth who otherwise lack access. Our programs build confidence, unlock a love of learning, and teach valuable technical and developmental skills while creating profound connections between our young constituents, their art and their communities. 15

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