hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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August 21, 2013

Double dose of nature

Mural at rail trail hints at what visitors will see

It’s an eye-catcher, for sure.

Visitors to the Bradford Rail trail who pass by the back of Arthur Sharp’s True Value hardware store can’t help but notice the handiwork of Haverhill High School students.

Guided by a professional mural artist, the students created scenes of nature sprinkled with plants and wildlife you might encounter along the trail. Hawks, eagles, geese and turkey vultures soar above tranquil scenes dotted by deer and beavers and turkeys, a fox and other animals, transforming what was a blank wall into a stunning vision of nature.

Even more art is planned for the trail, as the ultimate goal is to expand this walking and biking path and create a loop that will carry visitors from one side of the river to the other. Eventually the trail may be extended into Groveland. The Team Haverhill and Friends of the Bradford Rail Trail organizations have proposed incorporating even more art into the trail.

The mural that students worked on from January to May under the guidance of local artist Elizabeth Persing was installed on the back of the store last week. An official dedication is planned for October.

The mural is drawing the attention of people visiting the trail.

A dozen students with a flair for art participated in an Access 21 after-school project in which they gathered twice a week at the Burnham School and worked in a basement cafeteria converted to a temporary art studio.

Tina Fuller, director of the city’s Access 21 program, said the project combined community service, art and biology.

Working on 12 4-by-8-foot panels, the students painted images of native plants such as sumac trees and cattails and animals such as deer, foxes, coyotes, great blue herons, eagles, turtles and turkey vultures.

“We contacted the city’s conservation office and Mass Audubon for ideas as to what to include and we also thought about animals and plants we have seen ourselves in the area,” Fuller said.

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