Jan 27, 2016

A Welcoming Atmosphere: Painting with the Mural Training Program

by: Carly Rapaport-Stein

As an undergraduate at Muhlenberg, Nancy Marcus Newman double-majored in art and political science, then obtained a law degree after college. During a career working with nonprofit organizations, Nancy kept painting, and eventually decided to pursue art full-time. Nancy was a student in this fall’s Mural Training Program, and her painting is currently on exhibit in the gallery at the The Lincoln Financial Mural Arts Center through February 26. Read on for Nancy’s thoughts on the creative process and her experiences with Mural Arts.

Carly: What first interested you in the Mural Training Program?

Nancy: A friend of mine, who started a daycare center focused on early literacy, was interested in doing a mural on the side of the center. It was a big, blank wall, and she thought that with my artistic side and my work in nonprofits, I might be able to help. I immediately connected with Mural Arts, and spoke with Joan Reilly, who was incredibly helpful, and encouraged me to join the Mural Training Program.

Carly: Did the class meet your expectations?

Nancy: Yes! I loved learning about the whole process, which we learned about it in two ways. David McShane, our wonderful teacher, emphasized the community engagement process, and focused strongly on how to engage people in each neighborhood – it’s really about the community bringing their wish to the artist. And the second part was learning to paint building-size-large – I’ve always painted large, but not that large! Learning to use parachute cloth and the grid system was exciting, and with techniques like that, the sky’s really the limit.

Carly: Did you have a favorite moment in class?

Nancy: I think it was when we all went down to the studio at the start of our pieces, and we were working together in that large space. We were going over for plans for our pieces and I loved working in the group setting. And next door, Cesar Viveros was working on completing pieces for The Sacred Now. It was very cool, and felt like we were very much a part of a significant program in Philadelphia.

Carly: And what drew you to your own mural’s subject matter?

Nancy: I did this project with a specific site and wall in mind – the wall on the side of the early literacy center.  At the top of the wall, there are three big, beaming lights, and I wanted to use those lights in the design of the mural. I had spoken with my friend who runs the center about what might be a good image, and we all liked the idea of a lighthouse – it’s such a wonderful symbol for all of the possibilities that learning gives.

Carly: What’s the next artistic project on your plate that you’re excited about?

Nancy: I’ve been doing a lot of portraits lately. I designed a yoga mat using lyrics from one of my brother’s songs, and that was a very collaborative process. I’m looking forward to more collaborative pieces – working with the community, or working with other artists – and I’m going to keep incorporating that into my work.

Carly: Do you have any advice for people who want to try out this class?

Nancy: Go for it! It was such an open door and welcoming atmosphere, from everyone from my classmates to Jane Golden and Joan Reilly. The program and the entire organization embraced me, both as an artist and as a community member. If this is your method of creating, or painting is your vocabulary for sharing with others, this is a wonderful way to do it! It was also wonderful being with other talented artists – I was just floored by the creative ability of my peers in this class. I’m so happy I got to be a part of this diverse, talented class.

To see the work of the Mural Training Program, come visit the gallery space at the Lincoln Financial Mural Arts Center, 1729 Mt. Vernon Street, on Mondays through Fridays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The show is on view through February 26, 2016.

Last updated: Oct 21, 2021

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