In September 2020 Fordham Professor Mark Naison formed the Fordham Bronx Advocates with a goal of getting students involved with the surrounding neighborhood.
Naison teamed up with Lisa Preti, who works at the college and they eventually decided their first project would be a community mural. In scouting a location for the artwork, Preti found the perfect place, the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club, 543 E 189 Street.
The Boys and Girls Club was eager to participate in the initiative. Next, Preti contacted Bronx artist/activist/small business owner Lovie Pignata, who designed and painted the mural with Fordham students, Boys and Girls Club children and Senator Alessandra Biaggi.
On May 17, the mural, which depicts fruits and vegetables, was unveiled for the public.
“This is the first of what we hope will be many collaborations between Fordham staff, students and community leaders in the Bronx,” Naison said. “This is a model for what we see ourselves doing.”
The mural is symbolic of food insecurities people faced during the pandemic and the food pantries the Boy and Girls Club held during the past year.
Preti praised the students for their hard work and thanked the Boys and Girls Club for letting Fordham use its space.
Yolanda Roberson, director of the Clubhouse at the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club, said the artwork is special. She went to the club as a child and understands the impact the facility can have on the youth.
“We’ve never had anything like this,” she stated. “It brings a lot of color. One of our priorities is a healthy lifestyle, so this is right on target with what we’re trying to showcase our kids.”
Among those who participated was Fordham student Isabella Iazzetta. Iazzetta, who doesn’t describe herself as artistic, thought it would be a good way to give back to the community.
“I enjoyed doing it and it was really fun and relaxing,” she said.
The next phase of the project will entail creation and maintenance of a community garden on the same property.