Jersey officials visited James J. Ferris High School this morning to see young artists, ages 14 to 24, put the finishing touches on a 120 by 30-foot mural.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
The Jersey City Mural Arts Youth Summer Program launched earlier during Mayor Steven Fulop’s first term in office. This year’s mural theme is Jersey City’s 22 sister cities across the world.
“I don’t think there’s many cities that have this many sister cities. This speaks to all the different communities here in Jersey City,” Fulop said at a short press conference this morning.
“Thousands upon thousands of cars pass this intersection every day because it’s right off the turnpike, and they’re going to see their first impression of Jersey City is this great work by all these students here.”
Fulop believes that the program has successfully trained students for careers in the arts, continuing that the murals have become larger in scope over the years and begun to incorporate more detail.
JCMAP Director Brooke Hansson, who has led the program for seven years, said this helps participants get into college and have a leg up on the competition when it’s time to get a full-time job.
She explained the six-week commitment focuses on a different theme every year and the students spend the first three weeks researching the theme and designing the mural, with the second half being spent doing the actual painting.
During this process, the students were connected to cultural and political representatives of some of the cities to develop the mural’s concept.
“It shows how small we can make the world in a digital age,” she said.
The students are taught how to work in the medium of spray paint on a large scale and how to hang, frame, and price their art and are also compensated for their efforts.
“It’s a really comprehensive program that not only teaches them straight painting techniques, but really the employment and economics of art and how many employment opportunities there are,” Hansson said, noting that along with art production, students can get into curation, project management, and administration.
“We don’t know any other city in the state of New Jersey with this program where the kids get trained and get paid. There’s nothing like it,” added JCMAP Creative Director Duda Penteado.
Penteado instructs the students in the nuances of mural painting, including how to spray paint properly. He has been with the program since Day 1.
Additionally, Students were trained in the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) to operate the lifts to paint the wall.
Half of the students are new to the program, and half participated in the past. Art Coordinator Maya Sanders has participated in the program every year since its inception and she was also a project manager for Jersey City’s recent mural festival.
Sanders has seen the program grow and described the current mural’s style as “a mesh of old school and new school.”
Her favorite mural is “Heroes of the World,” which incorporates many icons such as LGBTQ activist and New Jersey native Marcia P. Johnson.
“We have implemented the best sister city program in New Jersey,” noted Economic Development Director Jose Arango, also the chair of the Hudson County Republican Committee.