MERIDEN — The once dreary and dull concrete underpass on Bunker Avenue is no more as a new vibrant mural was revealed during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday just prior to the Daffodil Festival.
Dubbed the “Rainbow Underpass” the mural is a collaboration between Sustainable Meriden, a student-led initiative, and two art-focused non-profits, RiseUp for Arts and Meriden’s own Gallery 53. Mayor Kevin Scarpati joined the organizers in revealing the mural and applauded the impact of the project.
“This is bringing in different generations,” said Scarpati. “You’ve got youth coming in and giving back to their community, you’re making an outstanding impact on this neighborhood.”
The project became a reality when volunteers joined to help paint the underpass over the last month.
Among the volunteers were several Maloney High School students with the Sustainable Meriden initiative. Nearly a dozen seniors from the school took part in the ceremony to watch the unveiling of the mural.
The mural “adds a lot of spirit and can-do attitude to the surrounding area,” said Jack DePalma, an 18-year-old Maloney senior. “I think sometimes we get a bad rep and I think something like this is really helpful in showing that we can absolutely make a difference.”
At the moment, the mural is currently the largest in the state by square feet, according to Matt Conway, executive director of RiseUp for Arts. Conway, who collaborates at mural sites statewide, stressed the importance of public art and how it can impact the community here in Meriden.
“Public art is accessible to everybody, it invokes emotion in individuals,” said Conway. “When someone can visually see a transformation of the underneath of a bridge they know things are actually happening.”
Talks surrounding future projects in Meriden are already in the works, according to Deanell Fraser, Sustainable Meriden’s advisor. The initiative goes beyond public art aiming to provide for environmental and community-based needs.
“We want to keep the momentum going and keep adding color to Meriden,” said Fraser.
Plans for the “Rainbow Underpass” went as far back as October of last year. In December, the mural effort raised $10,000 and Sustainable CT matched with a $5,000 donation.
Fraser says she’s grateful for the collaboration between the city, the volunteers and all of the organizations involved.
“It was a little overwhelming when we started and saw how much there was to cover,” said Fraser. “I want to thank all of the volunteers, the city of Meriden staff and all the groups that helped put this together.”
Daniel Passapera is a Quinnipiac University journalism student and a photographer for the university’s marketing and communications department. Instagram: Danpass19