MORRISTOWN – The painter leading work on the mural at the Sussex Avenue School expects the work to be completed and installed in his permanent home in the cafeteria by the end of February.
Painter, Caren Frost Olmsted, said fourth graders were asked what a healthy body means to them, and many talked about playing with friends outside, playing sports and eat healthy foods.
Part of the mural will be a heart made of fruits, vegetables and bread, and this will be installed on one side of the cafeteria; the part to be installed on the other side will be children playing at dusk.
Ninety-five fourth graders came to help, along with about 15 parents and several teachers, Olmsted said.
She designed the prints which were printed on a parachute cloth on which the students fill in paint, and Olmsted paints the highlights and shadows.
The fabric was strewn around the school’s art room from Wednesday February 9, but Olmsted said the painting would be finished by the end of the week, installed the following week and covered with a clear coat. the following week, so that the work will be completely done by the end of February.
“What’s really good about working in school right now is that the kids are a part of it,” Olmsted said. “And the teachers and the parents couldn’t mingle, and the parents couldn’t get into the school at all. So it’s good that the parents were able to come after school and help, and that all the children were able to paint together. So they’re really turning their rather bland cafeteria into something that’s going to be a great work of art.
This marks Olmsted’s second mural at the school; she worked with students last year to create a map of Morristown. This mural was installed last spring.
Olmsted was born in Morristown and lived there until her family moved to Bernardsville when she was in kindergarten. She now lives in Basking Ridge, where she created her first community projects at her children’s school around 2010.
She started her business in 2003 after working as a K-12 art teacher in North Carolina.
“I love painting with kids and teachers and parents, and people love it so much and they relax,” Olmsted said. “And they’re going to do something beautiful together.”
Scott Lukacs, art teacher at Sussex Avenue School, who painted on the mural, said the project was fun and it was great working with Olmsted and his assistant Jaime Conroy.
“I think it’s a great project,” Lukacs said. “I was really happy to be asked to help out with the little I did. I think it’s going to be beautiful when it comes up. I know all the kids are excited about it.
Conroy, a Madison resident, said the kids were lovely.
“It’s so fun to watch the kids embrace this and when it’s done hearing them say, ‘Oh, I made this tree,’ ‘Oh, I made this banana,'” said Conroy. “That’s the best part is just their recognition of their work and their contribution to their school community. It’s so comforting.