Greenpoint is about to become more inviting with the arrival of a huge mural, commemorating the community’s history and welcoming people as they arrive across the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge.
The mural is being coordinated by Groundswell, a non-profit organization that brings together youth, artists, and community organizations to beautify neighborhoods and engender social change, with funding from Elaine and Norm Brodsky, Lori and Kevin Thompson, Roux Associates, Broadway Stages and Two Trees.
Artists at Groundswell have been working with students from the Williamsburg High School of Art and Design (WHSAD) and the Greenpoint Youth Court (GYC) to create the mural, which is based on the students’ view of the history and future of Greenpoint, with an emphasis on the immigrant experience.
The group has been researching the community since the project began last October. They’ve taken field trips to various parts of the neighborhood, had workshops on mural making, conducted interviews with long-time residents and extensively researched the history of the neighborhood to develop the concept for the design.
“What’s great about this project is that it is 15 to 20 young people’s vision of the history and future of Greenpoint,” said Patrick Dougher, program director at Groundswell.
On Wednesday afternoon, the team behind the mural was busy at work painting the mural at Groundswell’s Carroll Gardens office. It was the first sneak peek at the under-construction mural, as Groundswell opened its doors for “Community Partners Painting Day.”
Some of the neighborhood landmarks that will be visible on the mural include the shelter pavilion at McGolrick Park, The USS Monitor and St. Anthony’s Church on Manhattan Avenue.
“It will be a feeling of accomplishment for us to know that we did something for the community,” said Matthew Sotomayor, 16, a junior at WHSAD. “It is a way for us to show respect to the people of Greenpoint – for what they’ve been through over the years living here.”
Some of the changes the young artists observed in their research included the growth of oil refineries in Greenpoint and its current position as one of the hubs for film and television filming in the country.
“We saw how the schools in the neighborhood changed too – earlier they were mostly Polish language schools,” said Jordi Rosalis, 16, a junior at Progress High School, and a member of the Greenpoint Youth Court. “There are so many restaurants too that have opened now in the neighborhood with food from all different parts of the world.”
For the next two months, the students will be hard at work on their “Welcome to Greenpoint” masterpiece, which is set to be presented to the community on May 7th.