In Spring 2018, nine student apprentices from FA378: Apprenticeship, working with muralist and Adjunct Professor David Guinn, painted a second mural at the Glenside Train Station underpass. After a semester of planning and organizing, meeting with community members, and collaborating on a design, we got to work painting the seventy-foot-long wall. For six consecutive Fridays, the group met at the wall in paint clothes and set up drop cloths, mixed colors, climbed ladders, and painted a mural celebrating the natural environment in Glenside. We washed paint brushes at the Bike Works, a motorcycle shop that has been in Glenside since the 1970s. We warmed up with coffee from Elcy’s Cafe across the street, and we got to know Glenside through countless interactions with pedestrians and motorists who stopped to talk while we were painting. This is what community mural painting is all about. Through the process of making a painting in public and improving the visual landscape, we strengthened relationships between Arcadia students and the Glenside community.
This was the second year of the mural apprenticeship at Arcadia and this year the students took it to another level. Together, we created a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for an LED lighting component that transforms the mural at night into a spectacle of light and color. Students took the lead developing a plan to connect with Glenside residents and businesses in person and online. The student-driven campaign raised over $7,500 (a serious number!) from over 200 contributors—a huge and well earned success. The lights will illuminate evenings in the underpass.
The work was not always fun. It is physically demanding work. It was cold or wet—or both at times! The fundraising took time and courage. We spoke with friends and strangers to explain our project. We walked into businesses on Easton Road. We tabled at the Glenside Farmers Market. We sent emails. We did it all as a team. The reward is seeing the transformation in the heart of Glenside and demonstrating that students don’t have to wait for graduation or some future time to make an impact in their community.
The Public Art Apprenticeship in Glenside continues in Spring 2019, so stay tuned!