Johnson & Johnson has a history of investing in the communities surrounding its facilities, nurturing them through arts and education programs, providing activities for communities to be involved in and facilitating organizations to come together in order to achieve common goals. As part of its community outreach in New Brunswick, home to the company’s headquarters, Johnson & Johnson invests in arts and culture initiatives through its Corporate Art Program, serving as a facilitator for collaborations between organizations to achieve common goals. I had the opportunity to participate in a community project sponsored by the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Art Program recently – a mural to beautify the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market. On Saturday, August 1, I teamed up with several student artists from Nurture thru Nature (NtN), an after-school summer program that exposes students ages 9 to 13 from New Brunswick public schools to nature and natural science, to paint a themed mural representing the relationship between city and farm. The mural depicts a scene of the New Brunswick skyline with outstretched hands, a representation of the community, holding fruits and vegetables. The theme ties into the farmers market’s goal of connecting the local community to healthy food choices and fits in well with my work, which is all about connection – how communities are involved and connected to one other through telephone poles, bridges and trains. The marks within my paintings echo the theme of connectivity, with arcs and lines that bring shapes and color together. [caption id="attachment_5475" align="aligncenter" width="364"] Photos: ©Aubrey J. Kauffman[/caption] As an artist with a full-time day job, I do not often have the opportunity to participate in community building projects like the farmers market mural. Bringing art to the community is important because art inspires imagination, and every idea comes from imagination. In creating the mural, the NtN students were able to tap into their creativity; each student was encouraged to choose a different shape to paint and interpret which fruit or vegetable it represented. Little by little, strawberries, watermelons, squash, peppers and more came to life. When the kids finished, a detailed array of fruits and vegetables remained. The mural is both an example of what community teamwork can produce and a showpiece for the students of NtN and the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market. It shows the positive impact that organizations can have on local communities by investing in and leveraging community partnerships. I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to participate in this project. [caption id="attachment_5478" align="aligncenter" width="384"] Photos: ©Aubrey J. Kauffman[/caption]
Michael Ciccotello is a New Jersey-based fine artist and a member of the artist collective, Albus Cavus. He has worked in a variety of media from three-dimensional animated motion graphics to large scale, outdoor murals. He received his BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. In 1999, he began his career in broadcast design and motion graphics. Currently, he is the Art & Design Director at Telos Corporation. Ciccotello received the LA Press Club award in 2007 for best editorial comic for his illustration work on “Schmooze or Lose.” His paintings have appeared on various marketing materials for companies like Liquitex and Winsor & Newton. His illustrations have appeared on Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel and CNN. He was the featured artist at the 2012 International Interior Design Association’s Fashion Meets Finish Gala in New Jersey after his 2011 showing at the NY Design Center. He has representation at Berkshire Art Gallery in Great Barrington, MA, as well as Susan Berke Fine Art in Red Bank, NJ. Ciccotello currently resides in New Jersey with his wife, Anne-Marie.