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Stockton students collaborate with artists to create Atlantic City murals – Trentonian | Pro Club Bd

ATLANTIC CITY — Alexandria Montalvo never imagined that artworks she helped create could have such an impact.

The Stockton University senior put the finishing touches on a new mural in Atlantic City on July 14 to honor four African American educational trailblazers. The mural is one of two completed this week in time for the NAACP National Convention, which is being held in the city for the first time since 1968.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” said the 27-year-old art history and studio art major at Mays Landing. “I usually make art for myself and not for something as important as this. So it’s really cool that I can say to people, ‘Look at this, I helped make that.’”

Montalvo is one of the few students who worked on the mural, a collaborative project between Stockton University’s Noyes Museum of Art, Create 48, and the Atlantic City Arts Foundation.

The first mural, created by Brigantine artists Charles Barbin and Randi Meekins, celebrates Stockton’s 50th birthday and features Juanita High, founding director of the NJ Equal Opportunity Fund and a member of the Board of Directors of the Stockton University Foundation; Dorothie W. Dorrington, educator and past president of the Atlantic City Board of Education; Vera King Farris, former president of Stockton, and Hannah Pierce Lowe, former principal of the Indiana Avenue Vocational School (for girls of color) in Atlantic City.

A mural by artist BK Foxx depicts Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr., and Fannie Lou Hamer while they were in Atlantic City. The mural was sprayed near Stockton University’s new dorm under construction. (Susan Allen/University of Stockton)

The second mural by New York artist BK Foxx features three different civil rights activists – Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and Fannie Lou Hamer – through photos taken of them in Atlantic City. King is standing on Missouri Avenue beach, the only beach in Atlantic City open to blacks in 1964. Ali visited a Nation of Islam temple in the 1960s, and Hamer’s photo is from her speech at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City.

Michael Cagno, executive director of the Noyes Museum, said the organizations have partnered with Brian K. Jackson, chief operating officer of the Stockton Atlantic City campus, and Lisa Honaker, former dean of the Stockton School of Arts and Humanities, to do something create “to celebrate history on a local level and global level.”

“Hopefully, when conventiongoers come and see these murals, it will inspire them to take them back to communities across the country and showcase not just people who are national icons, but people who have had an impact on our local communities,” said Cagno.

The mural depicting local educators is located on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue.

“To be able to honor not one but four women who paved the way for people who look like me makes me very proud,” said Meekins, who co-owns the Dune Gallery in Brigantine with Barbin. “Two of the educators actually taught my grandparents when they were at school, so I feel very connected to this project in many ways.”

Stockton University students put the finishing touches to a mural on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Atlantic City.  Shown are (from left) Juanita High, Founding Director of the NJ Equal Opportunity Fund and a member of the Stockton University Foundation Board of Directors;  Dorothie W. Dorrington, educator and past president of the Atlantic City Board of Education;  Vera King Farris, former president of Stockton, and Hannah Pierce, former principal of the Indiana Avenue Vocational School (for girls of color) in Atlantic City.  (Susan Allen/University of Stockton)
Stockton University students put the finishing touches to a mural on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Atlantic City. Shown are (from left) Juanita High, Founding Director of the NJ Equal Opportunity Fund and a member of the Stockton University Foundation Board of Directors; Dorothie W. Dorrington, educator and past president of the Atlantic City Board of Education; Vera King Farris, former president of Stockton, and Hannah Pierce, former principal of the Indiana Avenue Vocational School (for girls of color) in Atlantic City. (Susan Allen/University of Stockton)

Barbin and Meekins painted the mural in their studio on a material called parachute cloth. The duo spent about two weeks creating various parts across five 5ft by 10ft sections. Over the course of four hours on the night of July 13, these pieces of fabric were taped to a wall in Atlantic City. Stockton students then added the finishing touches.

Barbin said the cloth should last for several years, and this allowed the artists to create the mural quickly and without exposure to the elements.

As for the second mural, Create 48 owner Zach Katzen always wanted to do something big with King’s photo because “it really showed MLK in a way I’ve never seen him before — on the beach in a bathing suit, relaxed.” “

Katzen, whose company supports public art projects in Atlantic City, met local historian Lester Muhammad earlier this year at Stockton’s African American Heritage Short Course. Muhammad knew Ali and provided the photo used in the mural. And since Stockton honored Hamer by naming a function room after her at the John F. Scarpa Academic Center, Katzen thought her photo would be the perfect closing touch.

“The three images in this mural are all civil rights icons that were depicted during their time in Atlantic City, and many people don’t even know they were here,” Katzen said of the mural, which sits alongside Future Good Dog Bar & Restaurant just down the street from a new Stockton condominium under construction on Atlantic and Providence Avenues.

Katzen said it took Foxx about a week, with the help of artist Claudio Picasso, to complete the artwork, which was created entirely by spray painting the building’s wall.

Cagno said the whole process has been a great experience for his interns.

“That gave them a taste of all the operational stuff, which is really not sexy,” he said. “These are real-life skills for students who want to engage with art, whether that’s as a studio artist or museum educator or some sort of community curator. You could see how the process works.”

Katzen said he was grateful that the project came about in time for Congress and that Stockton could be a partner.

“These murals are a reminder to the people of this community that they come from a place of greatness, history and tradition,” he said. “A place so much bigger and broader than you might realize. Amazing things have happened here and they will happen again.”

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