Tuesday, October 24, 2017

There's going to be a mural...

So, I've been selected to create a mural for the Highland Avenue train station in Orange, NJ. The project is funded by a grant from the arts and urban renewal non-profit, H.A.N.D.S., and is being orchestrated by the kind, creative, and energetic folks at ValleyArts.

The plan I've concocted looks a bit like this:

And the proposal reads like this:

References to the Valley’s industrial past as an epicenter of hat making are to be found throughout our area. It is the intention of my mural design to take the nostalgia for our district’s manufacturing past and use it as a lens through which to view our current richness of cultural diversity. Proceeding from right to left as the dedicated wall space increases, a line of people appear, larger than life but as if descending the staircase from a sepia toned past to a full color present, using a plurality of headwear to tie the two together while highlighting their contrasts. In the background, the same sepia fades to a brilliant orange, overlaid with collaged imagery from early 20th century felt hat catalogs.

By concentrating on the varied hats, scarves and wraps, we can detect hints at each person's ethnic or religious background, but each is a portrait of individuality that ultimately obscures any reference to socioeconomic status, profession, or place of origin. Each hat represents a link to a history that may even predate the fedoras and feathers of the past, while still holding onto its own modern relevance.

The proposed mural does not make any overt reference to the visual art or music performance aspect of our current Valley. This is by design; art about art can run the risk of patting itself on the back, and I have found my own work to be at its best when the art serves to communicate outside of itself. My intention is to produce the mural as a painting on or affixed to the supplied metal panels, with the intention of celebrating our area with an actual painting, as opposed to a printed reproduction. Our world is full of reproductions, whether in the form of print media, digital streaming, or television, with paintings, orchestras, and theater prohibitively expensive, contributing to an ever widening class division.

More soon!