June 10, 2020

Public Art Mural to Honor Delaware River

PUBLIC ART MURAL: Princeton artist Marlon Davila begins painting the D&R Greenway Land Trust mural at Bordentown Beach, which will celebrate the Delaware River. It is projected to be completed by July 4.

D&R Greenway Land Trust of Princeton has announced that first brush strokes of paint are being applied to its public art mural celebrating their upcoming Kayak Education Program on the banks of the Delaware River at Bordentown Beach. This program is designed to increase water access and awareness of watershed protection for all people who live along the Delaware, recently named River of the Year 2020 by American Rivers.

The mural is to be completed by July 4. Meanwhile, the public is welcome to enjoy watching its progress at Bordentown Beach, maintaining social distance.

This announcement comes as June is celebrated as American Rivers Month across the country.  More than 15 million people get their drinking water from the Delaware River watershed.  To create a public statement about the importance of water and the river, and the diverse communities that benefit from it, D&R Greenway partnered with the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s youth program, FUTURO, and with the city of Bordentown.

The mural-in-progress is under the artistic leadership of Princeton resident Marlon Davila. Like many of the students he worked with on this project, he is first generation, his parents having immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala. To design the mural, Davila and Nadeem Demian of D&R Greenway, also first generation with parents from Egypt, worked with high school youth from Trenton and Princeton. The students were provided presentations about the important historic and natural resources of the Delaware River, and were invited to create art to express their cultural and individual views of environmental impacts on the Delaware. 

This spring, in two virtual workshops led by Tulia Jimenez-Vergara and Ana Obika of FUTURO, students presented their artwork for review by the mural artist and visiting artist Ryan Lilienthal of Princeton.

Linda Mead, president and CEO of D&R Greenway, explained how these virtual sessions inspired the mural, “It was enlightening, during these often challenging times, to see these young artists share their feelings about going outdoors and observing the trees, plants, and water.  Creative drawings interpreted river tides, the importance of clean drinking water, and the impacts we as humans have on our environment.  These colorful and unique drawings inspired the artist to incorporate the images into his overall mural design.”

The art will decorate the 40-foot shipping container in which will be stored the watercraft and equipment for D&R Greenway’s upcoming kayak program, based at Bordentown Beach, that will be offered as a scheduled educational outing for interested groups as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Renowned in the Princeton area for his John Street mural celebrating monarch butterflies, Davila said, “I feel honored to be a part of this program that is going to create environmental awareness, inspire creativity, and encourage peace and harmony. It is special to me because I am able to create a mural that amplifies the voices of the students in the LALDEF FUTURO program. I love that several communities have come together and have been willing to help out with what they can.”

Strategic Community Conservation Fellow Demian managed this unique project. As part of his one-year Princeton University Fellowship with D&R Greenway, he oversaw the grant-supported activities.

Jimenez-Vergara looks forward to having the students and their families visit Bordentown to see their images depicted in the public art mural.  “Our FUTURO students are happy to be involved in a forever project.,” she said.

For more information, visit www.drgreenway.org