Camden Schoolchildren’s 670-Foot Mural to Be Installed on Camden Waterfront

By Tom McLaughlin

How do you envision Camden’s past, present, and future?

That was the question posed to more than 300 Camden schoolchildren, whose vivid, colorful visions of the city will now be part of a stunning 670-foot mural lining construction fencing – spanning 67 panels, measuring 6 by 10 feet each – along the Camden waterfront.

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 for the next two years at the company’s construction site extending from Penn Street to Pearl Street.

The extensive, original work of art will be unveiled in a special ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday, May 18 at 1 Pearl Street in Camden.

“These students did an amazing job,” says Carmen Pendleton, community and artist programs manager for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts. “I can’t wait for them to see the end results of their hard work and its full significance at the unveiling ceremony.”

Beginning in September 2017, the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts brought together visiting professional teaching artists with Camden teachers and students at four participating schools – Dr. Charles E. Brimm Medical Arts High School, Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy, Thomas H. Dudley Family School, and Holy Name School.

The RCCA also arranged for the students to participate in its museum education program on the Rutgers–Camden campus. In turn, the students – using the former RCCA exhibition, “Picturing Camden,” as an inspiration – spent the fall 2017 semester visually portraying their depictions of Camden’s past, present, and future.

In early 2018, the visiting artists – Donna Backues from Philadelphia, Cesar Viveros from Mexico, and Doris Nogueira from Brazil – used the students’ artwork to design the separate mural panels.

Nogueira noted that, in a bind for time, parents at Thomas H. Dudley Family School “stepped up” and helped to complete the collage.

“The excitement was contagious,” she recalls. “There was a feeling of pride in the work produced by their children, but I could also see the pride felt by the parents for being active participants.”

The artist added that their pride was evident in the number of selfies and group pictures taken in front of their artworks.

Over the course of the project, says Pendleton, the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts was able to bring more arts into Camden classrooms, and the participating students had the opportunity to work with renowned artists and experiment with painting and drawing techniques using new art materials.

“It was an amazing collaboration that will now be on full display for all those who see this beautiful mural,” she says.

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