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New Mural Unveiled in The MILL at LBCC

Elsie Smith working on muralPhoto by Kacey Montgomery

ALBANY — The spirit of collaboration is in the air. Gathered at the back wall of the MILL, Painting 1 students shared cups of acrylic paint and chatted with one another while using their brushes to materialize two-dimensional olive branches, a bird of paradise flower, and other motifs of peace. 

The centerpiece of the mural is a young BIPOC woman, an homage to a former LBCC student, Yannie Reyes Alvarez. It was unveiled March 13 in The MILL, which is housed in Takena Hall, Room 229.

“Yanni was an art student here at LBCC and has since moved on,” LBCC art instructor Anne Magratten said. “She has done a lot of social justice work as well as continues to make art. She came to mind when working on the concept sketches for this mural because when thinking about peace, I was also thinking a lot about diversity, equity and inclusion.” 

Immortalizing Reyes Alvarez in this mural was work performed by student artists leaving their mark on LBCC, including recently retired mailroom whiz Cheryl French, who reported having a great time being a part of this massive project.  

This is a massive project indeed, and the class working on it put weeks of labor into this beautifully vibrant wall. Though it is more than just a labor of love for the students of Magratten’s painting class. This mural was funded by the Peace Initiative, allowing LBCC to pay the students for their time and effort. The Peace Initiative grant funds projects that promote peace in the community. 

“The mural is supposed to set the tone for the space,” MILL Coordinator Forrest Johnson said. “This is a space for collaboration, a place where people engage with each other, and themselves doing cool work.”

Making sure the students were fairly compensated was something that Magratten and the rest of the organizers of this project felt was important to set a precedent for the students; that their skills are valuable and this type of work is important to their professional livelihood.  

“A lot of times creative people get asked to do things for free, and I think that it’s important to acknowledge artwork for what it is, labor and work,” Magratten said, “and now this can be put on their artist resume.” 

“Oftentimes it’s hard to get mural jobs if you haven’t worked on a mural before,” Johnson said. 

Frequently to get that experience artists have to take jobs that aren’t great, he added. They could be high off the ground and outside and the great thing about this project is that students are working on their first mural in a safe environment, indoors and low to the ground.

“I’m learning to mix paints and also how to collaborate on a large-scale project like this,” student painter Rachel Severns said while working on the mural’s hummingbird.

The mural is now complete. Interested parties can now visit the Peace Mural. The MILL is open most business days; you can reach out to the MILL via email – – to confirm a time to visit. 

Editor’s Note: Students who worked on the mural were Kathy Cafazzo, Mary Catala, Feanryr Dragonson, Cheryl French, Noel Lundeen, Natasha Freilinger, Sarah Margraves, Kayley Martinez, Sarah Mason, Emily Moore, Rachel Severns, Anna-Marie Smith, Hannah Thomas, Layla Walter, Linda Smith, Spencer Weatherly, Tesorro Melendez, Yannie Reyes Alvarez and Avery Leon-Castillo.

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