Holyoke High School students paint mural depicting perspectives of their city with help of COE Social Justice Education student

The unveiling and dedication of a nine-panel mural depicting the past, present and future of the City of Holyoke, Mass., and painted by five Holyoke High School seniors was publicly unveiled on the side of an historic city theater recently. The students worked with UMass Amherst College of Education graduate student and community arts facilitator, Carla Wojczuk, as part of a Mural Arts Workshop in The CONNECTIONS After School Program at Holyoke High.

The mural offered the students opportunities to paint their impressions of and feelings about their city and their lives. The display of the mural was the culmination of an eight-week arts, dialog and counter-storytelling workshop that Wojczuk held at the high school. “The program was for youth to strengthen inter-personal relationships, explore stories of personal and collective importance, and encourage social action and reflection through community-based mural making,” Wojczuk said.

The five Holyoke High School student artists (left) are Gesenia Gutierrez, Fernando Ortiz, Jesenia Paredes, Andy Maldonado, and Elahn Santiago.

The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) offered a public home for the mural on an exterior wall of the Victory Theater, which the arts organization recently purchased.

The unveiling of the mural received a significant amount of media attention, including exposure on National Public Radio’s WFCR. See the You Tube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvPIBzDl7fs.

The mural project was supported by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Education but does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Massachusetts Department of Education or the federal government.