RIC students blend talents to create large-scale works of art

RIC students Ben Rittmann and Tiffany Cabral in front of the mural they created for the School of Social Work.

RIC students Ben Rittmann and Tiffany Cabral in front of the mural they created for the School of Social Work.

When it comes to creating murals, Ben Rittmann and Tiffany Cabral find inspiration in collaboration. The two RIC seniors have worked together to produce four large works of art – including their latest, located in a classroom in the School of Social Work.

Their new creation is a 15-by-10-foot painting showing people of various ages and ethnicities. The design was conceived in consultation with Sue Pearlmutter, dean of the School of Social Work, who had contacted the two artists on the recommendation of Bill Martin, chair of RIC’s Art Department.

The final design was Cabral’s. "“I had a vision, I went with it, and sent it to Ben. He liked it,” said Cabral.

Creating a mural is different than creating other types of artwork, the students said. “Murals in particular affect the community in which they’re installed,” said Rittmann. Unlike private pieces of art or museum works, “they’re a very big public display,” he noted. A mural should reflect what an organization is about, and also what the artist has to “say” about the organization.  

Pearlmutter was thrilled with the result. “I am really grateful to Tiffany and Ben,” Pearlmutter said. “Tiffany took an idea I had, and the two of them made it real. We talked together about social work and people our students work with – the children and families, and how different our clients are. … It was exactly what I wanted for the space.”

Cabral noted that the mural incorporated part of the School of Social Work’s Vision Statement – “Creation of learning environments that value diversity and creativity, and support for learners.”

Pictured are some of the materials Ben Rittmann and Tiffany Cabral used to create the mural in the School of Social Work.

“This was achieved by painting the many different faces that are both learning to serve and are being served by the school of social work,” said Cabral. “Our mural honors the diversity of age, race and background of all people.”

As for the actual painting, each student has a role: Rittmann creates the mural’s highlights and shadings while Cabral adds the underpainting and rich colors that bring the mural to life.

Their first three murals were done for the J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center’s Pathways Strategic Teaching Center in Coventry, an education and treatment program that serves children with autism and related disorders. Two of them remain on display at the center.

The projects are done under the auspices of the RIC Art Club, which also provides funding.

Currently, Rittmann and Cabral are formulating ideas for a mural to be installed in a Child Welfare Institute or classroom, which is also located in the School of Social Work.

Depending on their career and educational choices post-RIC, it is a good possibility the two will continue to collaborate in the future. As Cabral said, “Ben and I are a good team.”