River Life Mural

Mural Unveiling in 2013

On Friday, May 17, 2013 the community came together to recognize everyone who was involved in creating the River Life mural at the Andrews Middle School. We were especially proud to see Cortland Dugger, brother of Madeleine Dugger Andrews, our school’s namesake.

The following people participated in the mural unveiling ceremony:

Master of Ceremonies
Iragi Nkera

Pledge of Allegiance
Owen Miller

“Star Spangled Banner”
Erica Kenney

School Superintendent Roy Belson

“Rolling on the Mystic” Parody Song
Catarina Barros-Correia
Dora Barrett
Pari Adams
Julia Shanahan
Annamae Aurilio
Olivia Colina
Erica Kenney

The Mystic River (original poem)
Connor MacFarlane

Janet Walton, parent

Courage (Amelia Earhart)
Calvin Lambert

“God Bless America”
String Ensemble- Michael Fenn, Laura Schmidt, Olivia Colina, Lia Bendaniel, Carson Kurtz-Rossi

The Mystic River (original poem)
Maya Gomez-Coultas
Antonia Collins

Remarks from Muralist
David Fichter

A Minute on the Mystic
Julia Shanahan

Pete Gallagher, art teacher

History of the Mystic River
Cameron Kelly

“Over the River and Through the Woods”
Ruby Green
Jenna Agnone
Willa Driscoll

River Day Coordinator
Pauline Fiorello, parent

About the Mural

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AMS River Life mural

The “River Life” mural project at the Andrews Middle School in Medford might never have come about if not for some inquisitive Lawrence youngsters 30 years ago.

The Andrews mural is one of hundreds of such projects that renowned artist David Fichter of Cambridge has created with youth groups across Massachusetts, one of the most prominent being the large Mystic River mural along Mystic Avenue in Somerville.

Fichter’s work with young collaborators began after he painted a community mural in Lawrence in the early 1980s.

“There were a lot of kids in the neighborhood and they were curious about what I was doing and frequently would ask if they could help out,” Fichter said. “I hadn’t really thought about doing a mural with kids but when I saw their interest, it sparked the idea for me.”

He arranged to create another mural in Lawrence, focusing on its immigration history, with fourth-graders at a nearby elementary school. “It was really a wonderful experience,” Fichter said. “I started to explore techniques for working with kids on projects and I’ve done some sort of youth project every year since.”

Janet Walton, an Andrews parent, discovered Fichter in searching online for participants in the school’s annual River Day program last year. She led a $10,000 fund-raising drive to bring Fichter to the school as an artist in residence for the mural project.

“River Life” depicts the Mystic from a historical, social and ecological perspective and hang on an exterior wall of the school building less than 200 yards from the Mystic. “It will tell the story of Medford as seen through the lens of the river, from important events like Paul Revere’s ride, which crossed the Mystic, all the way up to the present,” Fichter said.

There will be representations of American Indians who lived along the river; the 19th century shipbuilding and brickmaking operations; the groundbreaking Middlesex Canal; alewife, herring and other wildlife; and abolitionist Lydia Maria Child, who famous poem “Thanksgiving Day” referenced the Mystic in its opening words, “Over the river and through the wood, to grandfather’s house we go.”

After meeting with Fichter and learning more about the Mystic River from art teacher Peter Gallagher, Andrews students created some 300 sketches of potential elements for the mural. Fichter turned an assortment of them and a few of his own ideas into a collage, then projected the drawings onto 12 panels for students to outline. Finally, students began to paint the panels in art classes.

On March 23, parents, friends and other Medford residents added their touches to the work in a Community Paint Day at the Andrews.

Fichter likes that the creative process reflects a wide range of people, as do his murals.

“In any school there are some kids who are very confident about their ability to draw or paint, and others who are not,” Fichter said. “The nice thing about doing a big mural is everybody can find a niche because the focus is not on an individual identity. It pulls everybody together to take on a project and that is very rewarding.”

The mural was unveiled on May 17 at the 10th annual River Day, a daylong outdoor education program at the Andrews that focuses on the Mystic River and environmental science.

“This program is supported in part by a grant from the Medford Arts Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.”        starh

AMS mural sketch

AMS mural

AMS mural

AMS mural

AMS mural

AMS mural

AMS mural