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06/15/2022 08:58 AM

A Piece of Freedom to Be Painted in Old Saybrook

Thanks to the efforts of a world-renowned artist and the efforts of two art teachers in the district, the side of RiverMart will host a mural that honors diversity of the students found in town.

International mural artist Rafael Blanco will be working on the mural along with Old Saybrook students from June 13 to 20. The mural is called Just a Piece of Freedom and will feature the portraits of four to six different students from all Old Saybrook schools.

Art teachers Sara Menga and Hannah Newton explained that students had to apply to be featured in the mural by explaining their passions and why they wanted to be included.

“It was beautiful to learn more about students than even we knew,” said Newton.

“Some students talked about how their family had been in Old Saybrook for generations, and then others talked about how they came here from a different country. We have a really growing diverse population here,” said Newton.

The spark for the idea to do a mural actually came from Old Saybrook High School student Nick Chacha, who Menga said is a talented artist in his own right. Newton and Menga said that in looking for ways to support Chacha and other art students in Old Saybrook last summer, they decided to contact Blanco to see if he would be interested doing a mural in town.

“He’s a very interesting artist who has done these kinds of paintings all over the country. We went out kind of on a whim to ask him and were shocked when he said ‘Yes,’” explained Menga. “We then opened up the application process to be included in the mural to everyone. It was very inclusive.”

“He’s very good and this really is a great way for Nick and other students to work with a professional artist,” Menga added.

While only four to six students will be featured in the mural, Newton said that many more will get the chance to have a piece of creating it.

“Over the course of the week, over 100 students will have the chance to walk over and work on the mural and meet the artist,” said Newton.

“It’s going to be a very rich mural. We have students from all different walks of life here,” added Menga.

Menga and Newton said that the mural should be completed when Blanco leaves on June 20. The teacher also filmed interviews with the students working on the mural to make a documentary on the project as well.

More on Blanco can be found on