Art and Design Students Create Public Mural for Montclair

Collaboration between University and Montclair Arts Council yields work of art for the Township of Montclair

Montclair's latest public work of art, a mural created by Montclair State University Art and Design students.

Thanks to the creativity and hard work of students and faculty from the Art and Design department of Montclair State University’s College of the Arts, and with the cooperation and support of the Montclair Arts Council and several local businesses and individuals, the Township of Montclair is now the proud beneficiary of a beautiful outdoor mural. Created especially for the township by the students, the mural is a visual sampling of some of Montclair’s historical events and characters, intertwined with imagery of its abundant flora and historical homes, and the words of poets, including Walt Whitman.

The mural has been installed in the space between the Bamboo Asian Bistro and the Montclair Char Broil Diner, in the 600 block of Valley Road in Montclair, and is an impressive, 8-foot-by-35-foot, acrylic-on-canvas work. Five undergraduate and five graduate art and design students—under the leadership of Julie Heffernan, associate professor of art and design, and adjunct instructor Zachary Wollard—worked for more than a semester to create the mural, Montclair’s newest public work of art.

According to Heffernan, the project was not only a creative experience for the students, but also an educational one. “I think the process of learning how to think collaboratively was a challenge for some students in the beginning,” she recalls. “But it taught them a lot about public art and thinking in terms of a wide, diverse audience, and about how to work with others. The esprit de corps among the group helped the project come to a rousing finish.”

Much of the success of the project can be attributed to the many township organizations, businesses, and individuals who arranged for much needed private funding, advice, materials, and assistance. Some of those who were instrumental in the process were Montclair Arts Council board member Dale Jacobs, Saunders Hardware owner Tom Vultee, architect John Way, and Classics Reborn, LLC, which built the frame and mounted the mural, among others.

Acknowledgement of the art and design students who put brush to canvas to make the mural a reality is also in order. Congratulations to undergraduate students Kyle Coniglio, Andrew Fondanarosa, Melissa Graff, Alfred Marroquin, and Daniela Puliti, and graduate students Gianluca Bianchino, Gavin Gewecke, Saydi Kaufman, Ji Yong Kim, and Sarah Zar.

The mural has been on display since July and an official dedication ceremony was held on September 25.

View photos from the dedication ceremony.

Read an article about the mural in The Montclair Times.

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