Marissa Zwickler, 6, has a claim to fame at Jefferson Elementary School. Artwork by her mom, Debbie Zwickler, greets the students every time they enter the library of the Norwalk school. Marissa's favorite Dr. Seuss character, The Cat in the Hat, swings in an imaginary jungle over a bookrack on one side, and a Dr. Seuss-inspired clock livens up the far wall, jazzing up the institutional clock on the formerly plain cinderblock. The Cat in the Hat floats in a hot air balloon on another wall and lounges over books in yet another spot.
Jefferson's Parent-Teacher Organization paid for the murals. The design was a collaborative effort with librarian Marcia Kibbe, who says the library is now a "colorful and cheerful and just a happy place to be."
Zwickler is an interior designer. "I've always done this on the side, since my nephew was born," she said. "He's now 14. I did some murals in his room as a little baby gift, and it just went from there. I'm inspired by children, just their sense of wonder, their eagerness to learn. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to create, especially environments for children which encourage that, encourage creativity and the use of imagination. So I was particularly thrilled to finally get into a school, because this is where children spend most of their year."
Zwickler used the words "dreary" and "dismal" to describe the library's state before she started. It has no windows, and the paint job was more than 20 years old.
Julie Signore, PTO treasurer, is a fan of the work, which was finished as the school year began. "When a child walks into a school, it should be warm," she said. "Her paintings are warm, unbelievable."
The artist was pleased to make her mark at the school.
"I'm just a real believer that schools, especially, should be designed for children," Zwickler said. "They should be visually stimulating environments which will encourage creativity and fun and learning. I think it was particularly needed at the Jefferson library... murals work is a relatively inexpensive way to create a big impact on a space."
Do your children enjoy artwork on their walls? Leave a comment below!
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