CAMDEN, NJ — ARTx Camden is a service organization founded by students and physicians of Cooper Medical School, Rowan University (CMSRU) who believe that the arts and humanities serve a vital purpose for the health of individuals, communities and our society as a whole. As future physicians, ARTx members support the arts and creative expression, as research shows that creating art can increase hope, compassion, and sense of self through social and personal engagement. .
In keeping with the organization’s mission, members have set themselves the goal of designing and installing a meaningful public work of art. They reached out to the community of Camden with the idea of designing a new public art project. As a result, the ARTx Camden Group partnered with Kelly Lopez, a local mural artist who volunteered to generously donate her time and talent to lead the artistic design of the piece.
As part of the planning process, the team held community design sessions, where members of the Camden community were invited to share their thoughts to contribute to the project. The team also hosted a session with members of LUCY Outreach to further discuss ideas for the public art installation. During these sessions, the group discussed which images and colors would best represent the spirit of Camden.
After months of planning and preparation, CMSRU students began the weekend of June 24 by cleaning, washing and prepping the space in preparation for painting a floor mural. Next, Kelly outlined the floor mural design to serve as a guide for the painting volunteers. On Sunday, June 26, after about eight hours of painting in the summer sun, the public art project came to life. Complete with vibrant colours, symbols to represent nature and an interactive ‘game board’, the mural now shines in the public space of the community garden in Camden’s Lanning Square area.
CMSRU students Katherine Cerniglia, Jamie Cabigas, Owen Henry, Joely Zilka, and Mary Penckofer led various project-related efforts.
“Through art and human expression, we can realize the beauty of the things around us and connect with each other in ways that are hard to explain,” said Katherine Cerniglia.. “Art is such an important part of life – it empowers people to heal.”
“It was special and very meaningful to be able to come together as a community in one space to create something together, especially after experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic for the past 2 years,” said Jamie Cabigas.
“We hope the success of this project will inspire more public art, arts advocacy and arts education projects,” said Owen Henry.