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Mount Kisco Elementary Celebrates New Multicultural Mural

 Burdick, Mazuera, Mulligan and Morsi-Hogans pose in front of mural with citation

A vibrant, welcoming new mural was recently celebrated during a small ceremony at Mount Kisco Elementary School (MKES). Jaime Mazuera, a local artist, Fox Lane alum and current MKES staff member, was commissioned by ArtsWestchester to paint the multicultural mural for the school’s lobby.

“Representation matters,” MKES Principal Inas Morsi-Hogans told those gathered in the school’s cafeteria. “And our community's heritage is beautifully captured in this gorgeous mural. We know that our families, our faculty, our staff, our friends feel very embraced and very loved and welcomed as a result. It's absolutely stunning.”

The school’s Multicultural Committee was instrumental in helping to apply for a grant and getting Mazuera’s project funded by ArtsWestchester. He worked closely with Leigh Viviano, a Multicultural Committee member and learning specialist at MKES, to come up with ideas for the mural.

“Leigh and I threw ideas back and forth,” Mazuera said. “We wanted to have someone at the door to greet you. From there, I was like, let’s add some kids. And maybe they're coming from their town to go to the school. It kind of just evolved.”

A second idea, one with faces of different ages and ethnicities, was also presented to the school community, but they voted for their favorite and the students walking to school from their town won.

“The other option would have been a little easier to do, but this was so much more fun,” Mazuera said. “There are more things going on so it’s much more enjoyable for the eyes. I'm just glad that it all worked out.”

Mazuera, a lifelong Mount Kisco resident, completed the project over the course of a three-day weekend with help from his girlfriend (also a Fox Lane alum), Lily Mulligan.

“I enjoyed every second of it,” Mazuera said. “Every 20 minutes or so I'd look up and go, wow. I'm actually getting to paint here. Growing up, I was always looking at the bare walls here and wishing I could draw on them. It’s like a full-circle moment.”

Many of the people included in the mural are based on people he knows — old classmates, a current student (who also happens to be his neighbor) and even himself.

When working on large projects like this one, Mazuera leans into a growth mindset.

“Instead of trying to paint something to one hundred percent, I aim for 70,” Mazuera said. “The overwhelming sensation of hitting 100 is so intimidating and it makes you not want to do it sometimes, whereas if I hit 70, I can slowly chip away at getting it done and taking it closer to 100.”

Aside from faculty, staff and administrators being on hand to celebrate Mazuera’s work, local officials came out as well. Mount Kisco Mayor Michael Cindrick, NYS Assemblymember Chris Burdick, and their teams were there, along with Susan Abbott from ArtsWestchester.

Burdick presented Mazuera with a citation.

“One of the things that the New York State Assembly has really been trying to do, together with our colleagues in the Senate, is to provide increased funding for art projects just like this,” Burdick said. “It is so wonderful and fulfilling to see the outcome of a tremendous project like yours, and so it really is my honor to present this citation on behalf of all of my colleagues in the New York State Assembly for the tremendous job you did.”

the vibrant, multicultural mural in the MKES lobby