The students of the Jersey City Summer Works Arts Program created an underwater-themed mural named “Aqua Land” on Grand Street and Johnston Avenue in Jersey City. We were invited by Catherine Hart, an amazing artist who works for the JC Mural Program and mentors/teaches these wonderful artists during the summer program, to check out the mural and meet a few of the artists involved.
Mayor Steven Fulop also came by to show his support and spent time getting to know everyone who took part of the project. He even invited me to join this group photo!
What are your names?
Stardaysha, Miriam, and Yaz.
Tell me about yourselves. What do you guys do?
Stardaysha: I paint and I’m a nerd.
Miriam: I really like fine arts. I have delved into painting since this program, but I usually like sketching, watercolor painting, stuff like that.
Yaz: I’m a visual artist who works with any medium.
Awesome! How did you guys get into this summer program?
Yaz: I got into it through finding Ms. Brooke Hansson, and she’s the one who told me about learning how to create murals, spray paint, how to present your work. She put me in the program because I showed her my art and she believed I could take my skills to the next level.
Miriam: My teacher, Ms. Smith, she’s at McNair (and was also voted Teacher of the Year). She showed me the memo that the people from Jersey City Summer Works were coming to our school to do a little information session. She said I should go because I was President of the Artist Guild at my school and thought I would like this opportunity, and I really did. I’m glad.
Stardaysha: I have a teacher named Mr. Cuevas. He has a habit of goofing off with me and telling me to get a job. He told me about the mural program and told me to sign up for it. I applied and got interviewed by Brooke, and she hired me. So I’m just going to keep doing it.
I love it! So tell me a little bit about Aqualand.
Stardaysha: Coming up with the name was more for fun, and I came up with it. Aqualand is an underwater theme because Brooke thought the windows would look cool with fish swimming through it as if we’re looking into an aquarium. That was the whole idea.
Miriam: It’s quite amazing because every single person who participated has a different art style. It’s cool that you can see so many different things on just one wall.
How was it, everyone working together?
Yaz: It was really interesting because, this year, I just started getting into working with other artists, which is not easy to do all the time because you’re not going to sync with every artist you work with. Sometimes, you have to see what that person could bring to the table and see how you can play around with what they’re adding. There was a lot of changing, adding, and taking out of things for a piece. At the end of the day, it still came out really good.
Stardaysha: Yaz was my favorite collaborative piece. We did one collab on the other side. His name is Bryson; he looks like Neptune, and he’s blue with pink lips and brown hair.
Yaz: He’s the first one you see coming down from Grand St.
I have to check it out! So how do you guys feel now that the program is over?
Yaz: I feel sad, and I’ll miss the feeling of spray painting every day. You love the smell of spray painting.
Miriam: This is what I was looking forward to all summer. When it finally started, I actually came two weeks late because I had to go to a wedding, and when I came here, I thought I would have no friends and wouldn’t meet anyone. The Stardaysha came up to me and was like, “Hey, you and me are friends now.”
You see, you make friends! Are you all doing this again next summer?
Miriam: I really want to.
Stardaysha: Of course, I am. Right now, I’m Brooke’s apprentice, so I’m going to keep doing things throughout the city and learn more. I’m excited to see what I can bring to the table next year.
Great! What are your favorite Jersey City hangout spots?
Yaz: I love Greenville. Downtown Yogurt has the best yogurt. Yoga at the Bethune Center is also really fun.
Miriam: Anywhere near Downtown is where I usually hang out. It’s easier to go from school or my house. It’s usually the Starbucks at Grove.
Stardaysha: I love food, so the Brownstone Diner next to Jersey City Medical Center is the best place to eat ever!
Anything else you’d like people to know about you or the mural?
Yaz: Come check it out!
Where can people find you or your work?
Stardaysha: My Facebook is Stardaysha Santos, and my Instagram is @stardaysha.s
Miriam: My Facebook is Miriam Jamal.
To find out more about the JC Summer Works Program go to http://jerseycitysummerworks.org