The new murals – indoor and outdoor – at Littlebrook Elementary School not only beautify and bring joy to the school, but also offer uplifting inspiration.
The murals were a collaboration of Littlebrook students and parents, Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) artists Maria Evans and Melissa Kuscin, Art teacher Colleen Dell, Artist Caren Olmsted, Littlebrook Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) co-presidents Kati Dunn, Sonja Ernst and Magdalena Janas and Principal Luis Ramirez, according to a press release through the Littlebrook Elementary School PTO.
“There is extensive research regarding space design in school environments that shows a relationship between physical characteristics of a school building and educational outcome,” Ernst said. “Color helps create unthreatening learning environment that supports visual processing among other benefits. Visual stimulation supports visual thinking, problem solving and creativity. When children are ‘OK,’ they learn better. At Littlebrook, we decided, if there is one thing that we can do following this pandemic, it is to help create a happy place where our children and our teachers can collaborate and thrive. That is how the idea of the murals was born.”
The PTO commissioned the ACP to enhance their outdoor spaces after finding beautiful inspiration in the murals the ACP has completed around town on Spring Street, John Street and the Princeton Shopping Center.
On June 15, the mural was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Students and staff voted to have the word ‘GROW’ depicted on the outdoor mural.
“Not only does the word depict the growth the children make through the years of their elementary education, but also the growth through COVID, increased resiliency and growing socially and emotionally,” Dunn said.
Dunn said they are thankful to Evans and Kuscin at the ACP for their vision for the mural.
“It is a beautiful community collaboration,” she said.
Evans, artistic director at the ACP, said they are “thrilled to bring the energizing power of public art to Littlebrook School.
“We thank Littlebrook’s exceptional PTO who is working diligently to provide positive messaging to their students, a mission more important than ever after the past few difficult years. The ACP is honored to be included in this process by bringing the mural magic and hope it will brighten the school day for years to come,” she said.
The elementary school celebrated a floor to ceiling indoor mural during a three-week residency program with Olmsted of Olmsted murals.
The mural project included input from all students, staff and Littlebrook families. The vestibule and lobby have been transformed into a welcoming, colorful and stimulating space.
“The opportunity to work with Caren Olmsted this year on a large-scale mural project involving each student at Littlebrook School was a blessing for all participants,” Dell said. “After each class painted the mural, I asked each group to share what the most meaningful part of the process was. One third grade student told the class that she loved painting one of the hands holding the globe because it reminded her of her best friend. Many of the primary students enjoyed having their hands painted green and leaving their handprint on the wall.
“There is no doubt that the mural at Littlebrook has transformed the entryway and lobby area, but more importantly each student artist was able to leave their mark and they will forever have that story to tell about the section of the mural they painted at Littlebrook. I would highly recommend and encourage any school to collaborate with Caren Olmsted as the art experience for the students was profound,” Dell said.
Janas said she is “very happy the PTO had a chance to improve the look and the feel of the school.”
“We brought color and happiness to the space where our kids and their teachers spend hours every single day,” she said.
Ramirez said he is proud of all the students and staff at Littlebrook.
“Our murals represent our Littlebrook community, especially our students,” he said. “It was important to have every child represented in the artwork. Each student has their unique handprint in the murals and took part in the painting of them as well. Our students’ voices are also represented in the murals. The children helped us with the words of welcome… and voted to have the word ‘GROW’ painted in the outdoor mural.”
Elrath Construction LLC, Yardley, Pa., prepped the outdoor space for the mural and Greenleaf Painters LLC, Hopewell, donated paint for the indoor mural.
Littlebrook PTO is hopeful to continue collaboration with Olmsted for future indoor murals, as well as with the ACP for blacktop games to be painted on their kindergarten playground and another outdoor mural project to enhance the playground space on the opposite side of the building.
For more information about Artist Caren Olmsted visit olmstedmurals.com.