WALLINGFORD — For three days Ryan “ARCY” Christenson, well-known graffiti and mural artist, was back at his alma mater Sheehan High School painting a mural that describes what it means to be a Titan.
Senior Clarisse Aminawung contacted ARCY, a North Haven resident, last year and asked him to create a mural for the school as a part of her capstone class.
“My project was to renovate the aesthetics of Sheehan, to make it a more stimulating environment and through that I reached out to my art teacher for some help and some inspiration and she told me about ARCY and told me that I should reach out to him because she thought it would be a good idea to see if he could donate something to the school,” Aminawung said. “So I did that and he got back to us and now we’re here.”
Aminawung said ARCY’s idea for the mural was to include significant figures that students could look up to. She met with faculty to come up with a list of different figures and then created surveys to get student input.
“Each person represents a certain academic field,” Aminawung said.
The mural includes Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Elon Musk and Serena Williams
The mural painting was supposed to take place last year, but was postponed due to COVID-19.
“Fortunately, (Clarisse) is still at the school now, she’s a senior, so we’re able to get her dream to come true before she finally leaves,” said Christenson, a 2005 Sheehan graduate and member of the Sheehan Hall of Fame. “I am happy to be able to get this in.”
He said the mural includes the five portraits in a pop-art style. “It is just really large, breaking the border, pretty big and bold and simple. It’s not too intricate … I want to deliver that wow-factor from a distance, but I don’t want people to be scratching their heads or have to come in super close to really identify …”
About 30 students from Nicholas Brown’s homeworker and maintenance classes helped to build platforms for the mural and outdoor easels that pieces of the mural could be painted on.
“I think it is pretty cool that someone world renown would come back and really make something special for the school that he once went to,” said Joseph Zellner, senior and one of Brown’s students. “He couldn’t have done it without this home repair class. It’s cool helping somebody who is nationally known and he’s done so many different things.”
Aminawung said she hopes the mural “reaches the students’ hearts.”
“Because he really did want a mural for the school that not only is dedicated for Sheehan but also has these significant figures that students can look up to and strive to work hard in their academics to become successful leaders like them,” Aminawung said.