Students unveil Brooklyn’s history mural

Unveiling of multicultural mural.

Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn), Deputy Leader, Sen. Kevin S. Parker and Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte last week joined Groundswell and Midwood High School in celebrating the completion of a new mural that depicts the history of Brooklyn over the course of hundreds of years and the various communities that have called the borough home.

The mural was completed by lead artist Misha Tyutyunik, assistant artist Iris Loughran and a team of Midwood High School students.

Groundswell is a nonprofit group that brings together artists, youth and community organizations to use art as a tool for social change – “for a more just and equitable world,” said Williams, representative for the 45th Council District.

The students who worked on the mural are Sumiya Alter, Anyi Chen, Ahreema Choudhary, Elyse Cruz, Anya Fang, Ada Jiang, Korina Kemelmakher, Alasia Miller, Zhanna Olevskaya, Paule Ouedraogo, Angela Win, Vicky Yang, Michelle Yatvitskiy, Nga Yu Lo and Anie Yvon.

“I am exceptionally proud of the artists and students who came together to work on this mural,” Williams said. “Brooklyn holds a special place in my heart and for millions of people who call this great borough home.

“Looking at this great piece of art, I am reminded of how Brooklyn has evolved and changed throughout the years,” he added. “I hope that people are filled with a sense of nostalgia and hope every time they walk by this mural.”

Founded in 1996 by New York City artists, educators and activists, Williams said Groundswell has been committed to collaborative art projects in promoting personal expression and community activism.

He said the group has completed nearly 500 murals with the help of “disenfranchised youth,” community-based organizations and elected officials, including him.

“The work put forth by the students of Midwood High School in partnership with Groundswell is absolutely phenomenal,” said Parker, who represents the 21st Senatorial District in Brooklyn. “The mural is a great addition to our community’s landscape, and I look forward to supporting similar projects that enrich and empower the lives of our students, while simultaneously strengthening the bonds that shape our communities.”

Vanessa Hadox, director of development and communications for Groundswell, said the project was made possible through a generous CASA grant from William’s Office, stating that it is “remarkable in many ways.

“It’s vibrant colors and bold graphics are a shining example of lead artist Misha Tyutyunik’s style, but each and every image and symbol is a product of the extensive work and collaboration of the young people who worked afterschool for many weeks to realize this project,” she said.

“This mural will stand as a testament to the Midwood High School students’ vision and dedication for decades to come,” she added.

Midwood High School Principal Michael McDonnell said part of the school’s experience is that students become part of their communities, adding that this mural “tied in what they’ve learned about history of Kings County and the Flatbush Junction, and they were able to beautify a space in the community that was in need of it.”

Tyutyunik said the mural is based on the ideas of students who live in the neighborhood and outlines the communities’ history dating back to Native Americans and farmland.

“Each portrait in the series is a super detailed rendition of a time period, using perspective, scale, proportion and color to depict a composition that is both visually informative, stimulating and readable,” Tyutyunik said.

Since 2014, Williams said he has supported two previous community mural projects, both aimed at beautifying the neighborhood and combating graffiti.

He said “Violence Destroys the Light of Day, which was commissioned in 2014, displays a series of anti-violence mural panels for the LIRR underpass in East Flatbush.”

“Local Heroes,” commissioned in 2015, features past and present local heroes of Flatbush, including the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress; Malcolm X; and Williams.

Jumaane Williams with students and artists at unveiling.

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