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Thursday, Mar 23, 2023

Artists to Paint New Mural in Student Center

A mural will be painted on the walls of McCullough student center between the mail center and the entrance to Crossroads Cafe in April, according to people familiar with the project. Artists Will Kasso Condry, Isaias Crow, Daniel “POSE2” Hopkins and Marthalicia Matarrita will hold a weeklong artists’ residency from April 8 to 15, which will include workshops and events in which Middlebury students can directly participate in the mural’s creation.

The project will have a specific focus on art as an introspective experience for communal and individual healing. The project will include a panel discussion on April 10 in Dana Auditorium in which the participating artists will talk about the ways that public art and murals foster conversation and healing. The week will conclude with a reception on April 13 in Crossroads Cafe.

The mural project was spearheaded by a planning committee comprised of students, faculty and administrators.

Artist Kasso Condry and associate director of the Anderson Freeman Resource Center Jennifer Herrera Condry, Sam Hurlburt and David Kloepfer from the student activities office, and director of intercultural programs Roberto Lint Sagarena lead the committee for faculty and staff. The students on the committee are Hannah Pustejovsky ’18, an intern in the student activities office, and recent additions Will Brossman ’21 and Jack Spiridellis ’21.

The planning committee members are especially excited about the collaborative nature of the project and its potential to benefit the college community as a whole, especially given the expertise of the participating artists in the arenas of art and community work.

“These artists are master muralists, educators and community organizers. Their work is rooted in using art for healing and community building,” Herrera Condry said.

“In the process, individuals from the Middlebury community will come together to develop a vision and work collectively to create the art,” Lint Sagarena said. “The mural itself will serve as a conspicuous reminder in the heart of campus that by working together the community can face challenges and heal.”

“I am personally excited to work with these outstanding artists, who are also great friends of mine,” Kasso Condry said. “I hope that having these artists here working with students to design and produce community murals will bring more creative energy to the entire campus at a time when it feels like Middlebury could use more TLC. Art is therapeutic but tends to be the missing link in conversations involving community organizing and connecting people.”

The project was presented to the CAPP advisory council by Kloepfer and the Condrys on Jan. 25. After approval from the advisory committee, the proposal was sent to the board of trustees’ CAPP subcommittee for final endorsement, as per protocol. The proposal received unanimous support and was approved by both committees.

The support was significant to those involved in the project’s planning. “It confirmed, and affirmed, that what we are doing is needed and valued,” Herrera Condry said.

“The proposal was very well worked out and contained a timeline and a process for involving the community,” said Pieter Broucke, director of arts and CAPP member.

“The creation of community murals in McCullough is consistent with feedback generated from students involved with the McCullough Working Group and the ‘Re-Imaging McCullough’ conversations between 2012 to 2014,” Herrera Condry said. “For many years, students expressed concerns over McCullough not ‘feeling’ warm and inviting or student-centered, and a desire for it to be a more lively place. Among many unfiltered wishes, having more art and murals was a recurring request.

Kasso Condry taught a winter term class this past January on graffiti and street art and produced a mural of Rosa Parks at Middlebury Union Middle School. The response to the murals Kasso Condry painted last year in the Anderson Freeman Resource Center (AFC) also increased the impetus to produce a mural in McCullough.

“Due to the positive social impact of the murals that Will Kasso Condry produced at the AFC in 2017, conversations were ignited about expanding this work to other student-centered spaces on campus,” Herrera Condry said. “I hope that the McCullough murals will help provide visual cues that represent vibrant and multidimensional interpretations of diverse student experiences at Middlebury.”

Students will be involved in the entire process, which was important to the planning committee as a significant part of the project’s focus on community building.

“As part of year-long campus-wide conversations on healing, well-being, and restorative practices, the mural project adds a new dimension that fosters creative expression and uses mural arts as a vehicle for healing and community building,” Herrera Condry said, emphasizing an event planned for the beginning of the week as an opportunity for this activity in particular.

“The weeklong artists’ residency will kick off with a half-day workshop in which students will focus on introspection, personal development, spiritual well-being, empowerment, team building, and communication,” Herrera Condry said. “Throughout the week, the artists will facilitate hands-on painting sessions with students who participated in the introspection and mural design workshop. The artists will paint alongside participants and refine the murals along the way to completion.”

Broucke and director of the college museum Richard Saunders see the mural as an important addition to the college’s current array of public art.

“I see this project as an opportunity to make Middlebury’s collection of public art more inclusive and thus, as a whole, more representative of our community,” Broucke said.

“I think what I like about the community mural proposed for McCullough is that its creation will be an inclusive process involving different members of the Middlebury community,” Saunders said. “For me campus art is really much less about whether one likes or dislikes a particular work, but rather much more about getting us — members of the Middlebury community — to pause and reflect.”

The project will receive support and funding from co-sponsors including Student Activities, the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, the Twilight Scholars Program, Director of the Arts and the Johnson Visual Arts Residency Program Fund, and Wonnacott Commons.