TEMA/ Stronger Together


Groundswell Community Mural Project ©

Acrylic on Canvas
8 x 15 Ft

Lead Artist: Conor McGrady
Assistant Artist: Carolina Veloso
Youth Artists:Shaniqua Adams, Cathy Ann Badal, Jorge Beltran, Kevin Bussey, Brandon Cosbert, Torey Kelly, Tony Noel, Daniel Pang, Ebony Thurman, Nathalie Vargas, Glenna Washington, Elizabeth Yanes, Jasmine Marquez, Joleen Pacheo, Aaron Dore, Johnny Marte, Raul Jara, Kristina Washington, Brittany Bethel, Kelisha Sutherland
Volunteers: Ryan Hartley Smith, Juan Villaneuva, Jason Talley, Sara Kolker, Sheya Doscher



In Groundswell’s TEMA (Teen Empowerment Mural Apprenticeship) program, youth worked to create a mural for the lobby of Trade Union SEIU 32BJ’s headquarters in lower Manhattan. SEIU represents workers in the janitorial, cleaning, security and doorman sector of employment. In January, TEMA participants met with over 40 rank and file union members and brainstormed ideas for the theme of the mural. It was decided to focus on the diversity of the membership and the strength and unity of 32BJ. Inspired by the meeting, youth in TEMA researched the history of SEIU and began to create a design. Once the design was drafted and modified based on suggestions from the union, work began on painting the mural, which was created on stretched canvas in our studio, for later installation in the headquarters lobby.

The mural was first gridded out with chalk line. The group then transferred the sketch onto the grid and began blocking in basic colors. The finished work shows vignettes of union members at their jobs as doormen, office cleaners, window cleaners and janitors. A tree represents the roots and branches of the union while a strong central group of figures displays both the diversity of the membership and the sense of unity and solidarity felt by all union members. The mural was installed in the lobby and dedicated on June 5, 2007, with youth participants, family members and 32BJ members present.

Special thanks to Local 32BJ members. TEMA is supported by: Altman Foundation, Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council and the Puffin Foundation.