By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Tourists staying at The James, a hotel in SoHo, can get a taste of the New York art scene with the price of a room. The hotel’s garden, called The Garden at the James NY, contains a colorful mural created by Molly Dilworth, an artist who lives in Greenpoint. The hotel’s owners chose Dilworth, who has created numerous artworks in public spaces in New York City, from among 75 artists submitting ideas. The theme of Dilworth’s mural, called “Ghost Acre,” is the history of Lower Manhattan. The work was unveiled on April 22.
“Ghost Acre,” is a mural that wraps around the entire central pillar in the garden, a public space outside The James at 27 Grand St. Because the garden is a public space, pedestrians as well as hotel guests can enjoy the mural.
Dilworth employed a design pattern that was inspired by the decorative histories of the original settlers of the city. The artist said she does a great deal of research when she takes on a project.
“In Lower Manhattan, you just scratch the surface. There is so much history here,” Dilworth told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. She was particularly interested in the history of slavery as well as the history of farmland established by Dutch settlers, she said. The relationship between the Caribbean and the city also fascinated her, she said.
The mural took several months from conception to completion. “It takes a while to create something. I start with a pool of information and work from there,” she said. In the creation of all of her work, Dilworth delves deeply into her subject matter, reading and researching as much as she can, almost to the point of becoming an expert on the subject. “I do a lot of writing. It is important,” she said, although she quickly added, “I am a visual artist, not an historian.” In many cases, she will create 20 or more designs for a work, as a kind of dry run, before she settles on a final design. She calls this process “flushing out the pipe.”
Dilworth’s previous artworks have been displayed in Times Square, the World Financial Center, and the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Little Italy, among other public spaces. Dilworth, a native of Michigan who moved to New York City 12 years ago, has also painted designs on rooftops. Her work has been featured on Google Earth. She holds an Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University.
As a child growing up in Michigan, Dilworth didn’t know she would grow up to become a successful artist. But she did spend a lot of time weaving and doing handiwork. She was also interested in architecture.
She finds her Greenpoint neighborhood to be visually inspiring. “I’ve seen the waterfront change. Also, there are a lot of historic blocks here,” she said.
What does she want to viewer to take away from the “Ghost Acre” mural? “I want them to enjoy it. I want it to be accessible. If people want to know more about the subject matter, that’s great. But if the viewer thinks it’s simply eye catching and doesn’t want to dig deeper, I’m fine with that too,” Dilworth said.