Faculty Member KB Jones Paints an Adirondacks-Inspired Mural in Brearley's New 590 Play Space for Lower Schoolers
The mural in the play space at 590 is loosely inspired by the Adirondack Mountains. The Adirondacks are a stunningly beautiful and wild area upstate that is not too far away from our urban lives in New York City. From the beginning I wanted to include a moose, and I think that this was because painting the scene reminded me of the joy that I experienced when I saw one for the first time in the woods in Maine. (There are also moose in the Adirondacks.) A beaver swimming was an obvious choice, and while I haven’t seen a beaver in the wild, apparently beaver sightings are on the rise! Wanting to be true to this particular ecosystem, loons and a brook trout were also included.
Art Department head Dale Emmart suggested using chalkboard paint on the mural, which is what makes it unique and so appropriate to an educational setting. The bottom half of the mural is made up of large simple shapes of color, which students will be encouraged to draw on with chalk. The mural is for kids, and it only makes sense that they would be encouraged to touch and engage with it. This interactive element of the painting is the part that I am the most excited about, and I can’t wait to see what they bring to it in September. I am also looking forward to sharing the space with the climbing wall that will soon be installed on the opposite end of the play space. While students climb the wall they can glance at the mural and be reminded of the beauty of our natural resources and the importance of protecting them.
Before coming to Brearley, I painted several murals in New Mexico. When Jane brought up the possibility of commissioning a mural for the new building, I was excited about the opportunity. Compared to that vast open spaces of the Southwest, a play space on the Upper East Side seemed relatively small and easy to handle. However, spending two weeks painting in the midst of the final phase of construction at 590 was unlike anything that I had ever experienced before. I left the project with tremendous respect for all of the labor and the coordination that went into the new building.