Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Mural brightens the hallways of St. Augustine School

BRIDGEPORT—Gathered after school, a select group of eighth graders at St. Augustine School, along with local artist Cleiton Ventura, picked up paintbrushes and pallets to brighten the hallway with their art.

The result is a striking mural that brightens the hallways of St. Augustine Academy on the cathedral campus in downtown Bridgeport.

The mural is a reflective piece on the eighth-graders’ experience of transitioning to high school. The left side represents the challenges and ups-and-downs they have experienced, while the right side represents their hope for a positive and bright future, says St. Augustine Academy art teacher Jennifer Strausser.

After applying for and receiving a grant from the Jamie A. Hulley Arts Foundation, Strausser immediately gathered a group of students whom she believed would greatly benefit from working together in a group on a collective task and toward a common goal.

The students brainstormed ideas and began to draw them out on paper, deciding on words, which would be the main focus of the mural. They then began to turn their ideas into reality by drawing them out on the wall that was later to be turned into a mural.

“Originally, I was forming an idea for students to work together as a team. I wanted a way for this concept to be turned into a visual piece that everyone in the school community could see and enjoy. It ended up being way more powerful as the group of students bonded over their experience,” recalls Strausser, who also serves as art teacher at St. Raphael Academy in Bridgeport.

Mrs. Strausser found out about local artist, Cleiton Ventura, who is well known for his murals and whose work was featured on a local blog. Mr. Ventura has produced artwork for schools in the area and is recognized for his graffiti-style lettering.

Working together, the students began to bring their ideas to life and color.

Many faculty members that passed by commented on how much the mural brightened up the hallway, one even saying that it brought a whole new perspective to the space. A group gathered to admire the work of the St. Augustine students.

“I was both shocked and impressed at how involved the students were both artistically and emotionally,” Mrs. Strausser commented, “the mural represents something everyone can relate to and appreciate.”

A fellow teacher commented on how the students should be really proud of their hard work and dedication to the project, which would bring so much joy to the school community.

The eighth graders were all smiles as they added color to the mural and talked excitedly about their plans for their upcoming graduation. A few students worked on adding color to the background, while some enhanced and outlined the featured lettering.

The Jamie A. Hulley Arts Foundation provides programs and funding in order to create meaningful educational experiences and life-changing opportunities through the arts. This foundation was created in memory of Jamie Alaine Hulley, a young woman who was passionate about the arts and was pursuing a career in such before she lost her battle with aggressive lymphoma at a young age.

The non-profit foundation is dedicated to supporting artists who share her passion by awarding annual scholarships, awards, grants, and providing educational programs in the arts.

“Our grant program makes it possible for individuals and community groups to follow a dream, to try something innovative, and to share the gift of the arts with their community,” states the Jamie A. Hulley Arts Foundation Program Highlights.

The eighth graders were all smiles as they added color to the mural and talked excitedly about their plans for their upcoming graduation. A few students worked on adding color to the background, while some enhanced and outlined the featured lettering.

Mrs. Strausser expressed her desire to continue this project with future students and her hopes of expanding the mural to other areas of the school.

“It is a great way for students to build confidence and camaraderie while working toward the same goal,” Mrs. Strausser said, attributing the success of the project to her budding young artists.