SMCEP engaged Chiara Eisner , a local artist, to paint a mural the captured the essence of our ESOL program. She interviewed several students about their experiences living in America. From these interviews , she developed a concept.
The scene on the mural shows immigrants from Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cape Verde, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, countries where many of St. Mark’s English students come from, sharing their country’s most beloved dishes with each other. At the end of every semester of English classes, the ESL students at St. Mark’s celebrate their improved English and new friendships by bringing their favorite foods to the school and serving a feast for themselves and their teachers. The artist, who has also taught English at the school, chose to paint this scene in order to give each of the students a dish on the wall that they could name, relate to, and talk about–and to inspire them to keep studying hard in their classes by reminding them of the delicious party that awaits them at the end of the semester.
The quote on the mural, “We, too, are America,” is a nod to Langston Hughes’ poem, “I, too,” in which Hughes writes about being “the darker brother” who is sent to “eat in the kitchen when company comes.” Despite the insult, he “laugh[s], eat[s] well, and grow[s] strong,” ultimately declaring that he, too, is America.
The mural is on display in the lobby of the classroom building.
About the Artist
Chiara Eisner is a young professional living in Dorchester. She taught English at St. Mark’s before taking on the mural project for the school, and is currently working on a film project to bring the individual stories of her students and other immigrants to light. She works as a Development Associate at the Boston architectural design studio, MASS Design Group, and co-founded and directs the nonprofit OncArt that connects doctors with artists to illustrate complicated health concepts for patients in low resource communities. She is a first generation Argentine-American.