Artist Marlon Davila visited his childhood elementary school in Princeton to discuss his work with fifth graders, and that visit sparked a school-wide project to create a large mural.
The Community Park Elementary School community will celebrate the new mural at a reveal ceremony that will be a highlight of the school’s annual fall picnic on Sept. 15.
Bevan Jones, the librarian at Community Park, told Davila during his school visit that she had always dreamed of creating a mural outside of the library. The discussion inspired students to gather support for a mural project.
With the guidance of Jones, fifth graders developed, organized, and promoted events to raise money for the project. They made posters and gave presentations at school-wide assemblies and Community Park PTO meetings. Throughout the school year, students, staff members, and families raised money through donations and various afterschool fundraisers and events. Students exceeded their fundraising goal, raising more than $6,000,
During their library classes, students learned about the significance of murals, studied murals from around the globe and diverse muralists, and learned about the mural process. Through interactive in-class sessions, each school grade worked with Davila to develop the illustration for the mural.
The project was a perfect fit for Davila, a first-generation Guatemalan born and raised in Princeton. Davila, who studied fashion at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and fine arts and painting at Mercer County Community College, now teaches art to children at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts.
Davila has been working on the project this summer, and the painting process is underway. The mural is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
“We created the mural not only to make our school and the community a more beautiful place, but also to inspire our students, convey joy and togetherness, and celebrate the school and larger Princeton community,” Jones said. “This project demonstrated to the children what can be accomplished when everyone works together to create something beautiful.”