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- by  Devon Geary
A new mural at Art Center Sarasota (south on US Route 41 from NCF campus) was created by New College of Florida student Annie Dong as a collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Manatee.

Over the course of four days, Art Center Sarasota’s west side was transformed into a beautiful mural that will stay for two years. This project allowed students from the Boys and Girls Club to take part in designing Sarasota. Through this, they developed a stronger connection to their community and learned valuable skills. 

Art Center of Sarasota explained that the goals of this project included teaching the students problem solving, communication, teamwork, and spatial reasoning. Both organizations connect to the youth in their areas and inspire them to pursue their passions and prepare them for a successful future. 

Annie Dong and Dawn Stanhope, Boys and Girls Club President

Their search for the perfect muralist led them to Annie Dong, who was dedicated to creating a beautiful addition for Sarasota — an opportunity she had dreamed of — while encouraging the young artists in our community. Annie is currently an art and psychology student at New College of Florida. She is working towards a career in art therapy and has prior experience with murals. 

Her goals for the mural project were to help the students bond as a respectful and communicative team that could have fun together. She looked back fondly at the discovery that basketball — not art — was the group’s main passion because of how talented they were, and she had the opportunity to express that art was born from unrestricted creativity that can take several forms. 

“I learned that in their free time, they have fun writing music and poetry,” Annie remarked. “I acknowledge to them that art is more than just painting or drawing. Art exceeds that because you are allowing your creativity to flow. That is what makes it art — the power to be able to create. That put smiles on their faces, and that was for sure one of many of my favorite moments.” 

Art Center Sarasota’s completed mural

When asked about what inspired the theme of the mural, Annie described how the location of Art Center Sarasota was the main consideration. The development of the Bay has showcased Sarasota’s nature scene and has become a popular place to spend time. Because the mural is seen from the Mangrove Path, it was designed to fit into the Bay’s natural theme. It depicts waves and florals that fit the location perfectly. The color palette was based on Annie’s previous murals and the Boy and Girls Club logo. 

The ribbon cutting was held on January 19th, where Art Center Sarasota and the Boys and Girls Club introduced the mural to the city’s residents. Annie and the students were celebrated for their hard work with ice cream, photoshoots, and a small party afterwards. This was the perfect addition to our Sarasota community. 

Devon Geary is a student contributor to the New College News.

Photos by Remy Katz.