Apr 25

Senior Art Worcester Mural…Intergenerational Pride! More information & a Pic

A Tribute to intergernational pride and cooperation!

Late last night, I posted what little I had learned about the Worcester, MA mural refinished by seniors at the University Park Campus School. Today I learned more, which I share with you  & I am so proud that it was a joint effort between the senior community and school students. The touching story is below and a true tribute to intergenerational pride!


(T&G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON) article by Alli Knothe, Telegram & Gazette Staff

WORCESTER — A mural originally designed by artist and activist Thomas Lewis, who died in 2008, was unveiled Thursday at the Worcester Senior Center.

The 17-foot-long painting was refinished by seniors at the University Park Campus School last year.

First commissioned by the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, in the early 2000s, the mural is intended to symbolize multicultural and intergenerational harmony.

While the organization had not meant for the painting to be a political statement, Mr. Lewis, who served time in prison for antiwar protests, created it with a focus on non-violence.

The painting designed by Mr. Lewis was shown for the first time in 2002 at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast. It eventually hung in the senior center cafeteria. However, he had left parts of it unpainted, with sketches of figures symbolizing the further work he said needed to be done on non-violence, said Louis Swinand. He knew Mr. Lewis and was a volunteer for RSVP at the time.

The word “finished” is a bit complicated, Mr. Swinand said, and Mr. Lewis described the mural as “complete” at the time.

During a renovation of the senior center cafeteria about the time of the artist’s death, the canvas was rolled up and placed in a closet for storage. Rediscovered years later, organizers reached out to the school system and a handful of students agreed to help finish it.

Jay Benotti, an art teacher for Worcester public schools who supervised the project, said the painting’s size created logistical hurdles.

“It wouldn’t fit in the classroom,” he said. “It was hours and hours of painting in the hallway after school.”

It was also a challenge to get information about what Mr. Lewis had intended with the original piece, he said.

“No one knew anything about it,” he said. “It was a pretty interesting piece of art. How could we bring what was started to the present day?”

So in place of a woman who could not be identified, the mural now includes President Barack Obama. The students also decided to add a more diverse group of people in the background, to include those of Asian and Hispanic descent. The mural also featured Martin Luther King Jr.

Mr. Benotti said work on the mural began in October 2012 and was completed in June 2013.

The event Thursday was a piece of the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism movement.

Students who contributed to the mural were Nick Holeman, Josefina Zuniga, Tran-Ahn Nguyen, Tiffany Vo, Kate Grady, Amy To, and Hannah Cao. None of the students was able to attend the event.

Contact Alli Knothe at allison.knothe@telegram.com. Follow her on Twitter @KnotheA

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