About The Heritage Mural Education Program

In 2008, Artist and muralist Jim Gloria was approached by the design committee of Bangor about creating a mural program downtown. As the founder and director of Totts Gap Arts Institute, Jim Gloria wanted to design a program that went beyond the creation of public art by actively involving the children and residents of the community in the process.

What developed, in partnership with the Bangor Main Street program, was a broad-based program that goes beyond art and design classes into becoming an integral part of the redevelopment strategy of the entire Slate Belt region. Through the success of this first mural, The Heritage Mural Education Program was born, along with a new vision for community revitalization, the Slate Belt Community Partnership.

Goals and Objectives

From the outset, the goals of the program were to:

  • Promote and preserve our Heritage of the Slate Belt
  • Compliment a proposed historic district in Bangor
  • Highlight local art and artists
  • Provide educational opportunities for the community
  • Be a catalyst towards development of the Slate Belt community branding and marketing efforts

Impacts, Costs and Benefits

The mural program has broad support and commitment. Expenses are borne by the building owner, community groups, the artist, and a significant amount of in-kind donations. The impact of the murals is immediately evident on multiple levels— economically, educationally, and culturally.

Design & Planning

Members of the local design committee meet with the lead artist over a period of months with the guidance of a curator from the Slate Belt Heritage Center. Art students participate in free mural classes studying mural design, rendering and execution. They research historic architecture and clothing, and discuss traditional painting materials and techniques as a prelude to actively taking part in the mural painting on a daily basis.

The Painting

Students begin by preparing and priming the building wall. They then proceed to lay out the design utilizing a grid-system of transfer, using practical math and geometry concepts in order to accurately proportion the final image. Painting begins with instruction on mixing paint, color theory, and painting techniques. Students are encouraged to critically evaluate their work, engaging continually in assessment and solutions.

Economic Impacts

The murals have been a magnet of interest. Tourists visit on a daily basis during the process, many not only from out of town, but out of state. Visits have continue as news articles and social media messages are published online and in print.

In Bangor, the murals will serve as the focal point for the Bangor nationally-registered historic district. This designation provides tax benefits to property owners and attracts high-quality investors. In the coming years, new murals will be completed throughout the Slate Belt.

A catalyst towards development and strengthening of the Slate Belt communities’ “brand”, representations of the murals will be used in community marketing and promotional efforts.

Culture Builds Community

The lead artist is continually engaged in conversations with citizens, answering questions about the mural design, process and development. The community, in turn, contributes oral histories of the town, adding to the design by providing pictures of their ancestors which are often incorporated into the mural.

Residents have remarked at how wonderful it was to see students participating in such a large-scale project, and the confidence they were displaying. This interaction contributes to positive good feelings in our towns.

Educational Impact

The lead artist and community mentors allows students to experience high quality tutoring in key areas, such as design, drawing and painting. They also gain guidance to help them identify post-secondary programs in the arts. What is often overlooked, however, is the impact art education has on other aspects of learning; by exercising intellectual, emotional and multi-sensory parts of the brain, educational impacts are significant to academic learning.