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Community Mural Project at Worthington Atlantic City Campus Brings Together Local Artists, History and At-Risk City Youth

09/27/2023 | Media Contact: David Zuba, Public Relations Manager and Copywriter | (609) 343-4933
Local artists in front of their murals painted at the Worthington Atlantic City campus

ATLANTIC CITY — Three local artists have collaborated with Atlantic City youth from the Leaders in Training Workforce Development Program to recognize the artistic memory and works of an early-20th-century Atlantic City native painter by creating three distinctive murals at Atlantic Cape’s Charles D. Worthington campus.

The idea behind this project was conceived by local resident and fellow artist Valeria Marcus, a longtime admirer and advocate of Jacob Lawrence and his masterful creativity as a painter and historical storyteller. Lawrence, who was known for his multi paneled series that tell stories of African and African American history as well as for painting individual genre scenes set in Harlem and the U.S. South, was born in 1917 and raised in a home on Kentucky and Arctic avenues. Though the house no longer stands, the land it once occupied is situated directly across the street from the Worthington campus.

For this reason, Kate O’Malley, executive director of the Atlantic City Arts Foundation, sought out Atlantic Cape’s Worthington campus as the mural’s home after being contacted by Marcus about this endeavor.

“We wanted to place the mural in the neighborhood where the artist (Lawrence) was born and with Atlantic Cape being an anchor institution in the city, with a location so close to the exact address of Lawrence’s birth, it seemed perfect,” O’Malley said.

Kenneth Lazan Faulk Jrs mural at Worthington Atlantic City campusThe mural, located on the campus’ New York Avenue facing side, consists of three separate panels, each painted by three local artists. The first, titled “A.C. 2023,” was created by Atlantic City resident Kenneth Lazan Faulk, Jr. as a tribute to Lawrence’s painting “Harlem 1943.” Faulk, Jr. mimics Lawrence’s primary color palette and abstract painting style while also focusing on Atlantic City as the work’s focal point.

Mural painting by local artist John MorrisThe second, titled “A Palette of Persistence,” is a portrait of Lawrence taken from a photo of the artist with some of his works in the background created by Absecon resident John Morris. The third, titled “Destiny,” was created by Rio Grande resident Chanelle Rene. This work was crafted as a modern interpretation of Lawrence’s “Dream No. 2” painting. The imagery in the window exemplifies the career aspirations of the youth from the Leaders in Training Program.

Mural painting by local artist Chanelle ReneAssisting the artists were team members of the Leaders in Training Workforce Development Program, which provides the youth of Atlantic City with workforce skills, and teaches them to overcome behavioral and mental health challenges. The program provides them with opportunities to foster positive relationships that ultimately develop the youth into good young citizens.

O’Malley is a strong advocate for teaming with Leaders in Training (LIT) to benefit Atlantic City’s youthful population.

“This is our third year working with the LIT program and we believe it is important to create programming involving our youth, especially teens in Atlantic City, as it is a pivotal point in many of their lives,” O’Malley said. “Allowing them to interact with artists who have built careers in Atlantic City, while also being able to have a hand in creating artwork that will last in their community, creates a sense of pride, exposes them to career options they may not have thought possible, and also encourages creative expression and collaboration skills that they may not be getting in their regular curriculum.”

The LIT program was developed in 2019 to assist the community’s at-risk youth. The program started out with 20 members four years ago and has grown exponentially to more than 500 at-risk youth, who are receiving mentoring, workforce and life skills training and education.

“I think the historical significance of this particular project also creates a unique opportunity for education, not only about the arts and mural making but also about Jacob Lawrence,” O’Malley concluded.

To date, the Atlantic City Arts Foundation has created close to 100 murals throughout Atlantic City since the program’s commencement in 2017.

“It makes me happy that we are doing right by our community and creating pieces that not only enhance the landscape of the city, but serve as a vehicle to bolster city pride for the residents of our community and to educate and inspire visitors and residents alike,” O’Malley said. “As a public arts organization, we seek to uplift and support our thriving arts community while enriching the lives of Atlantic City residents and visitors. We feel this project does a great job of both.”

These three murals will receive a clear graffiti and weather sealant, and will be maintained by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s (CRDA) Special Improvement Division. They will be officially unveiled prior to Atlantic Cape’s Board of Trustees meeting at the Worthington campus in October. 


About Atlantic Cape Community College

Atlantic Cape is a comprehensive two-year community college serving the residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties. The college offers over 40 career, transfer and workforce development programs to more than 8,000 students annually at three campuses in New Jersey: Atlantic City, Cape May Court House and Mays Landing.