Renowned Mural Painter David Guinn and Student Apprentices Transform Glenside Station

By Susan Gettlin | March 28, 2017
By David Guinn, Adjunct Professor, Art and Design Department

For the past 19 years, I’ve been a mural painter in Philadelphia. It’s an honor to lead a group of eleven student apprentices. Over the course of the 2017 Spring semester, the students and I are creating a public art project about a mile from Arcadia at the Glenside Train Station. The site is a highly visible public space in the heart of Glenside.

For the project to be successful it has to resonate with the people who will see it everyday. It has to speak to its location. To accomplish that goal, student apprentices have completed substantial research, meeting with and interviewing Glenside residents. A diverse array of stakeholders are part of the project, from Cheltenham Township officials, SEPTA, and business owners, to commuters and other students and faculty at Arcadia. 

Mural painting and public art crosses many disciplines—marketing and economic development, history, and psychology, as well as art. Reflecting this, the apprenticeship course (FA378 Entrepreneurship/ Gallery Apprenticeship) welcomed students from all majors and attracted a wide cross section of students. Mirroring the complexity of the community, the students in the course bring different skill sets to the project, from scientific illustration and graphic design, to business management, English and psychology. It’s a collaborative art, and the project is a true team effort.

Students are involved in all aspects of the process. In February and March, student apprentices led a series of community forums to get feedback on the design for the project. Later in the spring, we will begin painting the retaining wall of the Glenside Station along Easton Road, an eighty-foot-long by fifteen-foot-high stretch of bare concrete. The impact for the surrounding area could be transformative. Student initiative and energy will be making a major contribution to the civic space of Glenside, Pa., strengthening the natural relationship between the community and Arcadia University.

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