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The Trenton Mural Arts Project Atelier

While every Princeton Atelier course involves a professional art project that the course’s guest artists develop in the company of students, the Mural Arts Project Atelier expands a typical Princeton Atelier collaboration.  This spring’s Atelier, “The Big Picture: Mural Arts in Philadelphia and Trenton,” taught by guest artists Jane Golden and Shira Walinsky, brings together a number of participants within and outside the University to imagine, design, and create mural art in downtown Trenton. 

The course is cross-listed with Princeton’s Center for African American Studies and the Program in Visual Arts. It also involves collaborations among the Princeton Atelier, Princeton’s Pace Center for Civic Engagement, the Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia, the newly-formed Trenton Mural Arts Project, and the communities in Trenton’s four wards.

The Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia, founded and directed by Jane Golden, is the pre-eminent public arts program of its kind in the US. Jane Golden and her staff regularly consult nationally and internationally on building mural arts programs in urban areas.

The Trenton Mural Arts Project has chosen the Home Rubber Company site for its first mural arts project in Trenton

The Trenton Mural Arts Project grew out of the combined efforts of the Trenton and Princeton University groups over the past two years and is an informal partnership among ArtWorks Trenton, Capital City Redevelopment Corporation, Trenton Downtown Association/Destination Trenton, the City of Trenton, and several Princeton University programs—the Princeton Atelier, the Center for African American Studies, and the Pace Center for Civic Engagement.

In the Princeton Atelier course, students study the history of mural art, formal issues of design, and the function of “place” in public art.  They explore how the mural-creation process has been a powerful tool for social change since the late-20th century and investigate how identity, perception, and power shift when communities are part of creating and writing their own histories through murals and other public art.  To supplement the seminar, Golden and Walinsky have led students on tours of a few of the 3,000 murals in Philadelphia.

Working in Trenton, Atelier students participate in the extensive community engagement process developed by Golden’s Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.  Following the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program model, students attend neighborhood meetings where community members share views about the mural content, design, and function with the creative team. The students also undertake studio work to design the Trenton mural and to develop their own mural designs.

On May 3, 2011 at 3:30 PM, an exhibition will feature the students’ mural designs. In early June, the Trenton mural will be unveiled in a public ceremony.  Dates and locations to come.

Princeton Atelier students painting parachute cloth for the large outside mural on a Trenton factoryPrinceton Atelier students painting parachute cloth for the large outside mural on a Trenton factory.

Stretch of wall at the Home Rubber Co. in Trenton primed and ready to be painted by Princeton Atelier studentsStretch of wall at the Home Rubber Co. in Trenton primed and ready to be painted by Princeton Atelier students

The Princeton Atelier was endowed in 2009 through the generosity of a donor who has chosen to remain anonymous. The Atelier is additionally supported through The Newhouse Foundation, The Erik C. Blachford '89 Fund, The Schare-Pfaffenroth Endowment Fund, The Jordan Roth '97 Performance Fund and The Peter T. Joseph Foundation.


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