The heat was difficult last Thursday and Friday, but it did not stop the over 100 volunteers from giving the large exterior wall of the YMCA on High Street a major makeover.
Led by Jerry Butler, Central Connecticut State University art professor, volunteers worked non stop for 48 hours to produce the 48 by 10 foot glass mosaic, themed “Centuries of Innovation.”
“This is a City project that is going great,” said Butler about 24 hours into the project. “It’s really a historical mural that will enhance the streetscape.”
It connected both the history of New Britain and the history of the YMCA showing Spirit Mind and Body. Some of the people featured on the mural were the past president and CEO of the YMCA, the Founder from England, an African American past president and a Hispanic past president.
“In the 1960s the YMCA was one of the only places civil rights workers could meet,” said Butler. “Now the YMCA is training a new generation.”
Butler said kids of every ethnic background deserve to be able to engineer themselves for the future they desire. He said through self teaching youth that they don’t have to follow the paths of others and can make their own path each can learn to shape their future.
“We need to give them the basics,” said Butler. “When the City believes kids can do great stuff, then the kids believe they can do great stuff. I want them to have those tools and in 10 years they can help make this a vibrant City.”
Butler said he believes because of murals planned around the City, much from the upcoming streetscape project, people will be telling others from New York, Boston and around the country to come to New Britain to see our artwork. The mural on the YMCA is just the beginning.
Phase 2 will be on the other side of the YMCA around the corner. Butler said more art is planned in the middle areas around the highways of the City.
“I also want the kids to be proud of what they did,” he said. “For years to come they will know they were part of it.”
Melissa Olsen, who works at the YMCA and volunteered to help in putting the mural together, said she was thoroughly enjoying herself.
“It’s a good way for people to become involved in what is happening in New Britain,” Olsen said.
The mosaic was a collaborative effort involving the YMCA, Community Central, New Britain Downtown District, Greater New Britain Arts Alliance and the Art League of New Britain.
Throughout the 48-hour event, there was activities and entertainment, including musical and spoken word performances. There were food vendors, and those who volunteered at least three hours at the event received free food from local restaurants.
Organizers received donations of tile from area tile distributors. For more information on this mural or future murals at the YMCA contact Hannah Hurwitz of Community Central at email@example.com, 203-843-2121, or by visiting www.facebook.com/NewBritainMosaic.