Common Ground students work with artist Roberto Lugo on mural

Henry Chisholm
Development Associate

Every Thursday the students in the Artspace Apprenticeship Program participated in “Thankful Thursdays.” The students lock arms and talk about what and who they’re thankful for. Artist Roberto Lugo was leading the apprenticeship and was in awe of how close his group was.

“We did that about three days into the workshop, three weeks ago when we started, and even at that point people were already pretty emotional,” Lugo said. “That’s just to give you a sense of how close we are.”

On Friday, July 27 their closeness and hard work was on full display at the Artspace Paying Homage: Soil and Site Opening Reception. Three Common Ground students were in the program. They collaborated with Lugo on a mural that will be installed on campus.

Getting to know Roberto Lugo

He’s an artist from Philadelphia

His parents are the first generation in his family to raise children in the United States

He took up art at a community college after having no experience with it in high school.

Learn more about Roberto here! 

Raven Von Kohler, next to her artwork. Angela Robison, the woman depicted in her piece, was in attendance and stopped to talk to Von Kohler.

The centerpiece of the mural will be former CG student, the late Javier Martinez. Martinez, a victim of gun violence, died on December 28, 2013. The wetlands is named in his honor. Lugo said he chose clay as the mural’s material for a special reason.

“I thought the idea of making a tile mural would be a good way to communicate this because clay last thousands of years and long after such a tragedy’s outside the news, he’ll still be remembered,” Lugo said.

Javier’s mother, Zaida, was present at the opening reception. The colorful piece with Javier’s image in the middle was made by Lugo, Zaida said Javi would be proud.

“He’d be very happy. His life is still going, he still lives through Common Ground,” Zaida said.

Raven Von Kohler, a sophomore at Common Ground, said it’s humbling to have artwork that will be a part of the mural. Von Kohler’s piece was a portrait of Angela C. Robison, a judge in the New Haven branch of the Connecticut Supreme Court, happened to be at the opening reception. She introduced herself to Von Kohler and the two spoke about the piece. Von Kohler was starstruck.

Keely Russell-Thornton next to his piece of Freddie Mercury.

“It was so cool because I’ve been working on this thing for weeks and basing it off the picture and suddenly you get to see the real person,” Von Kohler said. “It was amazing.

Keely Russell-Thornton, a CG student, was amazed by the idea of having something at Common Ground that will be there forever, even if it’s a little intimidating.

“I’m very excited to have something be part of the Common Ground scenery, but I’m also a bit scared though because it’s going to be there even past when I’m gone from Common Ground,” Russell-Thornton said. “That’s scary.”


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