Student Artists Design Mural for 'Dark' Atlantic Avenue Underpass

By Nikhita Venugopal on July 15, 2013 8:56am 

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 A team of student artists will paint a mural at the underpass of Atlantic Avenue.
Atlantic Avenue Mural
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COBBLE HILL — On Atlantic Avenue, a dreary underpass that connects a waterfront park to the thriving commercial corridor will soon be transformed by a group of student artists.

The team of 17 artists, aged 15 to 21, have begun designing a mural for the north wall of the dark space, found at the end of Atlantic Avenue near Columbia Street, hoping to create a mural that will represent the greenery of the park and the culture of the neighborhood.

“It’s not welcoming,” said Emmanuel Knight, 21, of the underpass, one of the student artists on the project.

Using abstract patterns and shapes, the mural team is hoping to create a “flow” design that would encourage passersby to step through, rather than avoid, the underpass, said Esteban del Valle, 28, lead artist of the project.

“What will make people want to walk through,” said del Valle, who is instructing students in the project organized by Groundswell, a nonprofit organization that facilitates mural-making projects by “underrepresented groups,” according to their website.

The team spent a day last week visiting local businesses on Atlantic Avenue, from Sahadi’s to Floral Heights, interviewing business owners and asking questions to help them design the mural, like “What do you think it the most important part of the neighborhood?” and “What’s your favorite color?”

Through collaborative design and drawing, the students will then brainstorm ways to create the mural using those ideas, said del Valle, adding that the artwork will be unveiled in September.

“It’s a masterpiece from many different minds,” said Miyah Harris 16, one of the student artists.

The Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District funded the project through a grant, which they received last year, from the Department of Small Business Services and Deputy Mayor Robert Steel.

“It’s a very important missed connection between the park and Atlantic Avenue,” said Josef Szende, executive director of the Atlantic Avenue BID, an organization that represents over 300 neighborhood businesses, which is also working on a long-term design for structural elements of the underpass.

As they spoke to the owners, the students found “community” to be an integral to the Atlantic Avenue locals, a theme they hope to represent in the mural, said Knight, an art student at Kingsborough College.

Knight hopes the neighborhood will be able to look at the finished piece and say, “This is our community.”

“I’ve always had the mentality that you give something good you get something good,” he said.

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