Student-designed fresco fascinates at junior high
By Andrea Ray | May 02, 2017
MATTAPOISETT — When most people see a beautiful piece of art, they admire it. They might even buy it and hang it on their own wall.
Unluckily for Rochester resident Delaney Shaw, a 20-foot high mural is not the best fit for the average house. So she used the next-best canvas: a school wall.
A school wall you say? That’s grounds for detention, surely.
Well, not so much. This particular piece, a large and spreading mural above the inner courtyard at the junior high school, has been planned for the last year and a half. Shaw, an eighth grader and Rochester resident, found herself with a rather sudden idea to help brighten up the junior high.
“I was at the New Bedford Christmas Stroll,” she explained. “My mother and I were looking at the artwork, and I thought it was really cool. I thought it would be neat to get it in the school.”
She brought her idea to Old Rochester Junior High School Principal Kevin Brogioli not long after she initially dreamed it up. “She came by about a year and a half ago,” he said, “and she had an idea for school improvement.”
Brogioli, while impressed with Delaney’s vision, admitted he hadn’t initially expected her to pull it off. “A lot of kids come to me with good intentions and ideas,” he explained. “So often though the idea drops off when they become busy with something else, or the answer isn’t immediate.”
The long process didn’t deter Delaney. Brogioli explained that she had to get permission for the mural from both the School Committee and the school’s facilities department. Neither party was initially enthusiastic about a twenty-foot high mural on the inner courtyard wall. Delaney’s patient persistence eventually won them over, however, and they relented.
With permission secured, it was time to find the right artists. Luckily, Delaney’s mother Andrea Shaw actually knew two of the artists whose work they’d seen on the New Bedford Christmas Stroll. Todd Woodward and Ryan McFee are both graduates of ORR and professional artists. After several years in Boston, Rory McFee now runs his own gallery in New Bedford, Paradise McFee. Todd Woodward can be found in Brooklyn, working in fine art and as an award-winning tattoo artist.
“It was intimidating to call them!” Delaney said. Luckily, both artists retain fond memories of ORR, and were happy to design the mural. Delaney, Brogioli, Woodward and McFee emailed back and forth about their own artistic visions. “I really wanted something to do with the Navigator,” Delaney explained, referring to the junior high school’s mascot. Eventually McFee and Woodward worked that idea into an imposing compass rose, flanked by waves and two red birds.
“The hardest part was staying with it,” Delaney said. “Everyone gets so busy that you don’t hear back right away.”
That includes Delaney herself, who was invited to last year’s Junior National Young Leaders Conference. She’s also a devoted ice hockey and lacrosse player.
Even with her workload, she remains at work on the mural project. With the mural itself finished, now is the time to put together a Mother’s Day concert, which will fundraise for the mural and other arts projects within the junior high. The concert, to be played on May 14, will feature Rochester native Rebecca Correia, who spends a great deal of her time these days recording music in Nashville, Tennessee. Correia, said Delaney, was also happy to contribute her time to the cause.
Brogioli is hopeful that any extra funds will go towards funding further art projects in the future. He remains amazed at Delaney’s resourcefulness.
“Delaney’s initiative to follow through is so rare at her age,” he said. “It took a year and a half, but it wouldn’t have happened without her.”
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This blog was posted on www.bbmpros.com on May 2, 2017.