The Thriving Youth Task Force out of the Community Fund of Darien recently awarded the Darien Arts Center a mini-grant to help finance a one day painting project, My Darien, A Mural Painting Workshop. The DAC hopes the project pushes their initiative forward, and raises interest and participation in the arts at the middle and high school level. The DAC and members of the The Youth Asset Team will collaborate closely with Darien High School art students to prepare them to lead and mentor the project's participants. The Youth Asset Team will focus on specific techniques for creating lasting mentoring bonds between art assistants and Middlesex Middle School students, as well as tools for boosting confidence in each child and nurturing their enthusiasm for art.

Involvement at the seventh grade level in creative activities sits at only 10 percent according to the Search Institute survey taken by Darien students two years ago.

On April 11, middle school students will be invited to participate in this mural painting session under the guidance and expertise of instructor Mathew Burcaw. Sessions start at 4:45, 6:15 and 7:45 p.m. Students will participate in painting a mural that represents a vision of their hometown. Darien High School art students will provide assistance prior to and on the day of the sessions.

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In advance of April 11, Burcaw and DHS art students will collaborate to create a rough sketch for the mural depicting modern day Darien. The intent is to link this mural to the historic WPA murals displayed at Darien Town Hall representing early colonial life in Darien. DAC, board member and art historian Judy Groppa will provide a tour and short lecture of these historic murals to educate the instructor and the assistants on the importance and history of public art Upon completion, the My Darien mural hangs in the Darien Town Hall lobby from May 2 to 27.

Burcaw is a Greenwich native and has been teaching at the DAC for more than 10 years. He received his MFA from Parsons School of Design and remains very active in the art community both locally and regionally. Burcaw was a member of the Loft Artists Association of Stamford for seven years and was president for two years. His teaching experience includes the Whitney Museum of American Art, Stamford Museum and Nature Center, Trailblazers Academy and the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich.

The project will take place in the Darien Arts Center's Visual Arts Studio and will be open on a first come, first serve basis. To sign up participants should e-mail anne@darienarts.com by April 4. In the e-mail body, include the following: name of participant, grade level, age, and parent contact number as well as desired session.

Founded in 1975, the Darien Arts Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing visual and performing arts programs and events for the community. The DAC offers educational programs in dance, visual arts, theatre and music and performances by the Darien Players and the Cabaret Theatre. The organization is funded by private donations, tuition fees and ticket sales.

For more information, call 203-655-8683 or visit arts.darien.org.