Cristina Ainslie, Project Color Corps New York chapter co-chair, shows...

Cristina Ainslie, Project Color Corps New York chapter co-chair, shows prints of a mural outside her Huntington home on Wednesday. The mural will be painted at Uniondale High School on Friday and Saturday. Credit: James Carbone

The stark security entrance where students pass through metal detectors en route to class each morning at Uniondale High School will be transformed this weekend, when art students and volunteers team up with a world-renowned muralist to create a dramatic, color-filled, inspirational art space.

Organized by the New York chapter of the national nonprofit Project Color Corps, the idea is to use color — "optical optimism," the group calls it — to transform underserved neighborhoods, schools and locations through "color and patterns that impart positive messages of optimism and hope."

The nonprofit has undertaken 13 projects across the United States since being founded in 2011 by nationally known San Francisco-based designer Laura Guido-Clark. This is the first local project by the new New York chapter, which started in March 2020 — right at the onset of the pandemic.

"We hit COVID right at the exact time, so unfortunately we didn't have any projects for two years," New York chapter co-chair Cristina Ainslie said. "We're really excited about this project … This is where the kids go in and have to wait in line to pass through security, like when you're at the airport. It really is such a depressing space — and now we can give them something they can enjoy."


A contractor will prep the walls Friday with students and other volunteers assisting muralist Magda Love painting the actual murals Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Project Color Corps said the painters expect to use 8-to-10 different colors to render the two designs composed by Love.

The murals will include a range of plants, butterflies, birds, hearts and other renderings inspired by a pool of words suggested by students — a pool that includes words such as serene, snug, creative, safe, brightness, introspective, confident, earthy, risks, optimistic and good.

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Behr paints has donated supplies needed to paint what will be two murals — one covering a huge outdoor brick wall at the entrance, the other covering a long, low interior wall once inside. The total "canvas" covers a space 190 feet long and 9 1/2 feet high, officials said.

Uniondale was selected because of its large immigrant and minority student population. About 31.2% of the student population also is economically disadvantaged.

Uniondale High School art teacher Christine Stallone, a Northport native who studied and taught abroad in Italy and Spain, has made the school art club into a mural club over the course of the past two years and currently has about 25 students, all of whom will participate when the murals are painted Saturday.

She helped coordinate a survey of students who were asked to list words that expressed feelings reflecting their heritage, colors, culture and things that were important to them, words that later were made into a hand-drawn design by muralist Magda Love.

"The space is the first touchpoint students have with our school every morning, and now it's going to be a space that's bright, that's more reflective of them," Stallone said. "It's going to be an incredible way to start their day with more positivity and for the kids in the mural club, and for me, as well, it's going to be a chance to learn from an internationally acclaimed artist how to do this."

Ainslie said the Argentinian-born Love was selected from a group of about 10 artists considered. The New York-based Love has worked in Mexico, Cambodia and this winter will do a project in Ghana. 

"Being an immigrant myself, I really like to be part of communities like this," Love said. "Teaching them to be part of mural painting is more than just about art, it really helps kids achieve larger things — the idea of working together in groups, how everybody's role is important … the intention is to create a sense of pride, but also to empower people to do beautiful things."

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