Exploring the Implications of Community Mural Arts: A Case Analysis of a 'Groundswell' Mural Project
Pontious, Jacquelyn Rae
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Groundswell, a New York-based nonprofit community arts organization, creates high quality public art with youth and artists throughout the five boroughs of the City. This study examines how the nonprofit utilizes mural making, a potentially democratic art form, to provide opportunities for individual and collective impact. I undertook key informant interviews and documents analysis to explore the complex model the nonprofit employs to create a collaborative and community-based art process for youth, while also developing a product that can both spark conversation and reflect resident's experiences. Overall the nonprofit's mural making process provided its youth participants with opportunities to reflect and develop personally and professionally. They worked collaboratively to accomplish a goal and learned to think critically about the role of gender and media as they considered their mural subjects. To create their art, youths needed to exercise empathetic understanding as well as creativity to craft a positive message and subsequently design a pictorial representation that reflected the experiences, interests and concerns of the community residents with whom they worked. Not only did Groundswell program participants undertake reflexive and developmental experiences, but the community of Coney Island also gained a mural that serves as a positive affirmation, a sounding board and a symbol of the community's resilience in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
- Masters Theses