Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

Posts tagged ‘Mural’

Evolution of a Mural at Swarthmore College

The Artist: David “Dee” Craig

IMG_5192Early in the Fall semester, Lee Smithy, Associate Professor of Sociology Peace and Conflict Studies Program, announced that David “Dee” Craig, a mural artist from Belfast, Northern Ireland, had been granted a residency by the Tri-College Creative Residencies Program.

Dee  was raised in a working class community of Belfast, and those experiences focused his art. “Fear, pain and solitude; the discrepancies and gap between the rich and poor are also emotions which Dee aims to portray.” Dee has completed art projects in his neighborhoods in Belfast, working with the Ulster Museum, and outside of Northern Ireland, including the US, Israel and Spain.

This description of his artistic style explains Dee’s approach to his work.

He uses bold hard lines to represent the strength and steadfastness that working class people ooze, while at the same time using dark colours drawn from thoughts and feelings to portray a somewhat lack of aspiration imbedded in the set in stone belief some view as ‘imprisonment’ in a level or class of life. Brighter colours are also used to represent how we can over come these obstacles to strive forward in life and adapt in a more modern society.  About Dee

As part of the residency, the College commissioned Dee to paint a mural on campus, and Lee invited community members to take part in planning meetings to discuss the theme and content of the mural. During these meetings faculty, staff and students brainstormed ideas. Lee sent the notes and suggestions to Dee. Within a few weeks, Dee sent preliminary sketches back to Lee so that we could offer feedback.

Collage Project in Kohlberg Hall

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At the first residency event, Dee and Paul Downie, mural artist who has been consultant and instructor for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and Director of the Community Arts Center in Wallingford, installed a mural in the Sociology and Anthropology wing of Kohlberg Hall. The artists composed a collage of colorful designs on a wall facing the windows overlooking Parrish Hall. What was once a rather bland entrance to the second floor, now featured a masterpiece of color.

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Opening Exhibit & Discussion


On October 24, an exhibit in McCabe Library Atrium opened: “Murals, Memory and Transformations: The Mural Art of David “Dee” Craig in Northern Ireland. Lee interviewed Dee, followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

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Meanwhile, college staff erected a tent to serve as the studio, and in addition, assembled scaffolding along the wall.

Mural Unfolds

Over the next several weeks, Dee painted the various sections of the mural. At the early stages the brilliant colors against the white canvas were striking. I could see the beginnings of an inspiring piece. In the slides below, the mural progresses from the first sketches to the installation on the wall.

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November 18, 2013

Final Mural Resize




Northern Ireland Mural Artist Begins Creative Residency at Swarthmore College

Troubled Walls


Art Imitating Life

on 47th and Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia.

The city of Philadelphia displays the largest collection of public murals in the country. One of the 2,000 murals rests on the wall outside of the A-Space, a collectively run anarchist community center and art gallery. Titled The Heart of Baltimore Avenue, the muralist, David Ginn, depicts West Philly neighbors working together.

Passing by on May Day 2013, caught this moment . . . which stands as a tribute to all workers who make our cities great.

Life Imitating Art

An Enchanting Isle off the West Coast of Scotland (Part 1)

The Magic of Faeries: Isle of Skye 

Mae journals on the hillside

Heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.  Celtic Saying

Years ago, before I had much travel experience, I journeyed to Scotland, with my teenaged daughter, unsure what such an adventure would bring–especially since we would be traveling without the support of an escorted tour. We ventured across Scotland on the Haggis Bus, a bright yellow mini-bus driven by young Scotsmen, all of whom could tell humorous and fantastic stories of their homeland while negotiating the winding roadways with the confidence and vigor that youth brings.  As we left Edinburgh, the bus followed a narrow highway far into the emerald countryside, passing wee villages lined with stoned walls and whitewashed houses topped with brick chimneys.  The bus rolled along on the “wrong side” –my attention riveted to the road ahead.

Our bus stopped just outside the Isle of  Skye, so we were on our own to navigate the remote sections of the island by rental car. We planned our adventure to include Skye because the descriptions from the Whitewave Outdoor Center offered spectacular views of coastline via kayak.

The narrow road ribboned its way along the coastline from Portee to Uig. The ocean stretched against the sky and hills, the wind scattering the clouds across the sea. Villages nestled on inlets, the island’s geological formations creating ragged edges around the island. Drawn into the landscape, we stopped often along the way to take short walks or to sit in green pastures that fell to jagged ridges and rocky shores below us.

Faerie Glen 

Skye, which already had an otherworldly spirit, became even more so upon discovering the Faerie Glen, just east of Uig. We passed through the gate, hidden from the main road, and followed a single-track car path through conical-shaped hillocks. Sheep dotted the landscape, their soft baaing breaking the silence of the hillsides. Further down the way, a narrow stream flowed into a pond where dancing sounds of water trickled through the deep green. Ferns and foxglove covered the lower elevations, and higher up deep ridges encircled the mounds.

We peeked behind rocks and into crevices created by gnarled tree roots. If faeries ever existed, this would be the place.

Bovine observer: we were not alone.

Faerie Bridge 

We found the Faerie Bridge traversing a small stream on the road to Dunvegan. We waded through the mounds of colored brush surrounding the stone archway to explore all views of the bridge.

As we leaned on the arch to view the other side, we wondered if we had arrived at a portal to another world, the cool dampness on this side, the warm sunlight on the other. According to legend, the chief of the MacLeod Clan married a faerie, but alas, after twenty years, she had to return to her fairyland. On this bridge the fairy bade farewell to her husband.

In the photograph below a misty light cloud appears left of center. I’m not sure why.

Memories Linger

Upon returning home, the magic of Skye stayed with me and inspired a flurry of artistic creations: a mural on a wall, a majolica tile and a wee bridge from clay.

One more project remained: recreating a magical place in the garden. Part II coming next.

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