Members of the BHS Mural Guild this school year will create a large mural depicting the township's history to be installed at Neshaminy Mall.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for our kids to display their incredible talents to our community at large," said BHS Principal Bob Anderson. "I can't thank the mall enough for promoting student artwork and at the same time providing our community with an historical perspective."
Mall management offered the space this spring when the district approached them about displaying student art. Jillian Fikkert, the mall's marketing manager, quickly came up with the idea of an historical mural on a 45-foot-long inside wall at the entrance between Macy's and Boscov's.
“It is a great opportunity to bring the culture and artistry that the high school Mural Guild embraces into the mall for the public to enjoy," she said. "In working together, the school district and mall management have been able to take the idea of spotlighting students' art to the next level. We hope the end product will have a long presence in the mall for the community to enjoy for years to come.”
The Bensalem Mural Guild was created in 2009 as a result of overwhelming interest among BHS student and currently has about 35 members. The goal is to provide students an outlet for artistic expression by designing and producing murals and other public art for the Bensalem community.
The look on guild Director Aimee Krause's face when she first saw the 45-by-18-foot wall spoke volumes.
"While Bensalem High School's Mural Guild has created over 100 murals that have transformed the environment of the high school, the sheer size and scale of the space is exciting," she later said. "The students are eager to tackle a project of this magnitude."
Photographs of three of those in-school murals were recently mounted on the mall wall as part of an artful placeholder for what's to come.
After the mall's initial offer was made, The Bensalem Historical Society quickly agreed to offer its expertise.
"An objective of the Historical Society is to maintain and present Bensalem's history for everyone. There is no better way to reach many people than to help with or present a mural in the Neshaminy Mall," said society President Kathy Leighton. "We hope this mural will create interest in Bensalem's fascinating past."
Not long after the society joined the process, Bryan Hampton, assistant manager of the Home Depot store on Rockhill Drive, decided to provide free gift cards which were used to buy paint. Then he convinced Behr Paint to donate more paint.
And late last month the district received the news that meant all costs were covered and the project was a definite go: Macy's had approved an application for a $5,000 grant.
“Macy’s is committed to supporting local communities and empowering children through various channels,” said Frank Signore, Macy’s district vice president. “This mural is an incredibly special way for us to support the Bensalem Township School District and celebrate the students’ artistic achievement. We hope this mural brings joy to shoppers at the Neshaminy Mall for many years to come. “
Principal Bob Anderson said, "The support from Macy's, Home Depot and Behr Paint, especially in these tough economic times, was not only critical but heartwarming. And we'd be remiss to try to do this without the resources and knowledge of the Historical Society, which didn't hesitate when asked."
Representatives of the Historical Society plan to meet with students this month and, among other things, offer ideas for collages that will comprise the mural. After the students choose the subjects for the collages, they will begin creating them on duck cloth at the high school.
If all goes as planned, the mural will be installed at the mall at the end of the school year.
"The collaboration of the guild and the Bensalem Historical Society has provided an outstanding opportunity for all to experience the creative process and production of a public art piece that represents the cultural fabric of our community," said Krause. “The students are extremely excited to work together to create art with each other and for each other that is reflective of our home."
Information provided by the Bensalem School District.