Marshall Memorial Grants Support Holy Cross Student Projects to Improve the Worcester Community

Magafan Mural Project team restores 68 year old murals with the support of grant

This year, 17 students were awarded Marshall Memorial Grants through the Marshall Memorial Fund. Each semester the fund awards grants typically ranging from $200-$500 on a competitive basis for service, research, and community-based learning projects that are of academic benefit to students and faculty, as well as of benefit to the Worcester community.

The fund, founded by the generosity of James J. Marshall and Ellen O’Connor Marshall, encourages the creative and intellectual involvement of Holy Cross students and faculty with the Worcester Community in order to enhance the quality of life in Worcester while building closer ties between the College and the community. The fund is part of the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning whose mission is to engage faculty, staff, students, and community partners in a process of integrating theory and practice, connecting academic learning with civic engagement.

One Marshall grant in particular will help to support the Magafan Mural Project (MMP), which is comprised of six students — Sarah Valente ’16, Nicole Landry ’16, Maggie MacMullin ’16, Patrick Franco ’17, Hannah Moore ’18, and Melissa Gryan ’18 — involved with the restoration of four Jenne Magafan murals at Worcester East Middle School (WEMS). The MMP team was awarded their first Marshall grant in fall 2015 to purchase conservation materials and will be continuing their work with WEMS this spring with their second grant. The grant will also enable the team to involve WEMS students and teachers in the creation of a new student-designed mural in the school’s cafeteria.

The MMP is also supported in part by a grant from the Worcester Arts Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

“The latest Marshall grant has enabled us to work more closely with the Worcester East Middle School Art Club,” says Valente, project coordinator, chemistry major, and art history and studio art double minor from Basking Ridge, N.J. “We have been volunteering with the club to create a new mural, designed and installed primarily by the students. We hope community members will join us alongside the students and faculty of WEMS for a small celebration Wednesday, April 27, between 2:30 and 4 p.m. at the middle school.”

The MMP is an outgrowth of Valente and Landry’s summer research project, which investigated the process of art conversation and mural restoration. “As part of our research,” Valente explains, “we were asked to develop a fundraising plan to conserve these historical murals. Anthony Cashman, (director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowships and Graduate Studies), Daniel Klinghard, (associate professor of political science and director of the Summer Research in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts), James Welu (visiting lecturer of visual arts and former director of the Worcester Art Museum), and Jeff Repucci ’14 (cofounder of Working for Worcester) advised us on how to carry out this plan. Conserving these murals will ensure that generations of Worcester students have the opportunity to foster an appreciation for art. ”

The original murals were created between 1948 and 1949 by Jenne Magafan, along with her twin sister Ethel and husband, artist Bruce Currie. The Magafan sisters also worked on murals across the country under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Section of Fine Arts, a program that hired thousands of American artists during the Great Depression.

Valente and Landry gathered a team of interested Holy Cross students to fundraise for the project and educate others on its importance. Through contacting local arts leaders, Valente and Landry gave talks on the Magafan murals across the city at the Worcester Center for Crafts and many schools. Gwen Manthey, assistant paintings conservator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, became the MMP team’s private conservator.

The team, partnering with the Student Art Society at Holy Cross, hosted an art auction at the College last semester where they raised enough funding to support the total conservation of one mural. After receiving the Greater Worcester Community Grant, Valente says, “We are happy to announce that we have completed fundraising for the conservation of these murals.”

“The Magafan Mural Project serves as an impressive model of integrative and collaborative learning as the team has pulled together the expertise and resources of numerous students, faculty, staff, and community members to enable the project to reach its fullest potential,” says Michelle Sterk Barrett, director of the Donelan Office. “It has been a pleasure to witness the work of the MMP team and to support their efforts through the Marshall Memorial Fund.”

Other 2015-2016 Marshall Grant recipients include:

  • Halley Allcroft ’16, for the purchasing of supplies for brain awareness educational events at the Nativity School, Canterbury School, and the Girls Scouts STEM Expo.
  • Ariel Baker ’16, for the funding of a college visit day for students from the Assumption Center’s Girls with Dreams program.
  • Linnea Brandt ’16, for the funding of support for “Christmas Care Caddies for Abby’s,” for the purchase of 30 caddies that contain personal items such as toiletries, umbrellas, journals, and pens for Abby’s House Residents.
  • Molly Caulfield ’16, for the funding of sponsorship for a bowling outing for Holy Cross mentors and youth of Ascentria Care Alliance’s Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program (URMP).
  • Gennifer Durhman ’16, for the funding of the purchase of seeds and gardening supplies for Holy Cross mentors and youth from the assumption Center to do community gardening and nutritional education events.
  • Zhenxi Qi ’16, for the funding of support for the production of Dismas House’s “Coming Home Worcester” directory to assist ex-offenders in the reentry process.
  • Ja-Lene Scott-Dottin ’16 and Zhenxi Qi ’16, for the funding of an apple picking and lunch outing for residents of Abby’s House.
  • Lauren Suprenant ’16, for the funding of the purchase of an ELMO document projector for a Burncoat Middle School science classroom and colored pencils to support the School’s Self-Regulated Strategy Development writing program.
  • John Swartzwelder ’19, for the funding of the purchase of a desktop computer for the afterschool program at the Sisters of St. Anne’s Marie Anne Center.
  • Sean Teebagy ’17, for the funding of the purchase of utility carts, books, hand lotion, and knitting supplies for the Caring Carts initiative at UMASS Medical Center.
  • Claire Weston ’16, for the funding of assistance in supporting the Community Harvest Project’s efforts to learn more about developing a bioshelter.

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