A report by Elena Barilla for MyNBC.
A new mural in downtown Plattsburgh is celebrating the city’s diversity, as paintings of birds will represent those who nest here.
The group of 40 artists behind the mural calls themselves the ‘Plattsbirders,’ and they’ve flocked to the Court Street mural to paint birds representing where they are from.Advertisement
Lead artist Gharon Burton primed the wall and painted the tree to start the project. He is from the Caribbean island of Dominica.
Plattsburgh Public Art Project co-director Amy Guglielmo was the early bird in the project – painting New York State’s Eastern bluebird on one of Burton’s painted tree limbs first.
“I’m born and raised in Plattsburgh, New York. I want to represent,” said Guglielmo.
Artist Winosha Steele is an international student at SUNY Plattsburgh, who is painting a frigate bird to represent her home country, Antigua. She also painted a Cardinal for SUNY Plattsburgh.
“It’s basically just about all the cultures that are in Plattsburgh especially, from the school, that come together in this community to make the community what it is and I just think it’s beautiful, and we’re doing that by representing them with birds,” said Steele.
“I hope this represents the different types of people that come here and call this place home,” says Sarah Fruqi, who is from Plattsburgh and painting birds to celebrate her heritage. “My mother is French Canadian and my father is Indian from India, so today I will be painting a peacock and a gray jay which is the Canadian side of me which is the national bird of Canada,” she said.
The peacock and gray jay are connected by a maple leaf, to symbolize her two cultures coming together.
The project took a couple of years of chirping with other artists about the idea, run by grants and donations.
“It’s so important to be able to do something like this that brings people together. It’s also something that attracts people to downtown,” says artist Luis Sierra who is from Honduras, and part Guatemalan.
While the mural on the Court Street wall is wrapping up, the project is likely never to be finished, as future artists spreading their wings and flying to Plattsburgh ‘toucan’ paint a bird.
“It would be really fun to sort of stumble upon a bird when you’re walking around a corner and be like ‘ how did this bird get here?’ and have people search for birds around downtown. I think it’s a nice way to keep it going,” said Guglielmo.