By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center in Dyker Heights has a striking new mural outside its back door, thanks to students from McKinley Intermediate School and leaders of a non-profit group devoted to the arts.
The kids were guided by artists from 20/20 Visions For Schools, a group which works on art projects with public school students, in their creation of “Generations,” a mural now on permanent display on the lawn outside the home. The facility is located at 1250 67th St. “The Generations” greets visitors entering the Ovington Avenue side of the building.
The mural was unveiled during a ceremony at the home on May 14. George Jensen, chairman of the board of directors at the Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center, Arlene Rutuelo, a member of the board of directors, and residents of the home were among those who attended the unveiling. The ceremony took place a few days before the annual Norwegian-American 17th of May Parade is scheduled to be held in Bay Ridge. Rutuelo is the parade chairman.
The artwork, which is displayed on two panels, features tributes to immigrants from around the world who came to the U.S. to build better lives. One panel contains a message reading “Honor Thy Father and Mother,” along with images of immigrants, the Statue of Liberty, the Norwegian flag and the American flag. The second panel has the message “Love Thy Neighbor” decorating a canvass containing flags from a variety of nations and figures representing countries like Mexico, Yemen and Italy.
The idea of the mural is to reinforce the notion that immigrants through the generations have come to the U.S., settled in places like Brooklyn, and have contributed to the life blood of the community, Rutuelo said. Norwegians are part of this proud legacy, she said. “I was really excited when I heard about this project trying to bridge the home with the community. This home has been here for 110 years. Our heart is in the community. The mural is our way to declare the next 110 years,” she said.
Rutuelo noted that one does not have to be a Norwegian-American to receive services at the Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center. “We are open to all,” she said.
McKinley Principal Janice Geary was on hand to congratulate the students who worked on the mural: Zaynab Sulaiman, Julia Del Re, Elmer Garcia and Petar Ye. Zaynab said she was excited to see the work finally unveiled. “It’s nice to see it,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle. Two other students who were members of the creative team, Maggie Fang and Thinn Lei Win, were unable to be there.
Geary said the school encourages students to work to make the community a better place. “Our belief is that the community is part of everyday life in our school,” she said.
“This mural is nothing less than outstanding,” said Jeremy De Rio, executive director of 20/20 Vision For Schools.
Artist Sam Wisneski worked with the kids to come up with a concept for the mural and then guided the youngsters in the execution of their idea. “Collaboration is the heart and soul of any species surviving. This mural was collaboration,” he said.
“It’s gratifying to me to see young people presenting their talents and expressing their talents,” Jensen said.