New Mural Underway To Honor Eileen Collins

ELMIRA – A new student mural has begun in Elmira and is set to be unveiled in June 2022, according to the Elmira City School District.

Broadway Academy Art Students have begun painting a mural of Eileen Collins on the side of New York Sport and Fitness on Water Street in Downtown Elmira.  

Directed by art teacher Emily Solometo, around 20 Broadway Academy 9th grade students are enrolled in a semester-long course called “Creative Arts.” The class examines symbolism in art and murals as a method of community education, civic engagement, and aesthetics. 

This is the fourth student mural created through this class under Solometo’s direction and will feature Elmira native, ECSD alumna and retired NASA Astronaut Eileen Collins.  This month, students are working collaboratively to execute the mural on the East side of New York Sport and Fitness on Water Street in Elmira, New York. 

The mural will be the third of a portrait series that began in 2018 on the side of the NYSAF building. The first two portraits include Ernie Davis, painted in 2018, and Joel Stephens, painted in 2019.

In 2020-21, Broadway Academy students created an art mural to celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of Southport this year, 2022.

Artistic process includes students choosing a subject and doing important research on their subject before working on individual pieces of the portrait. Each students’ individual work of art is pieced together like a puzzle, eventually becoming the final mural design. Students are also becoming familiar with expectations of safety and professionalism as it relates to a community arts project. 

A ribbon-cutting date for the mural will be announced.

About Eileen Collins

Selected as an astronaut in 1990, Collins became the first woman pilot of a U.S. space shuttle in February 1995, serving on the orbiter Discovery for a rendezvous and docking mission to the Russian space station Mir. She piloted a second shuttle flight in May 1997, successfully docking the Atlantis with Mir to transfer personnel, equipment, and supplies. With hundreds of hours in space to her credit, Collins became the first woman to command a shuttle mission in July 1999, taking Columbia into Earth orbit to deploy the Chandra X-ray Observatory. After Columbia was destroyed on a subsequent flight in February 2003, the entire shuttle fleet was grounded until July 2005, when Collins commanded Discovery on a “return to flight” mission to test new safety modifications and to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). Prior to Discovery’s docking with the ISS, Collins guided the spacecraft through a full 360° pitch (nose-over-tail) maneuver—the first person to do so with an orbiter—which allowed ISS crew members to photograph the spacecraft’s belly for possible damage.

Collins retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2005 and from NASA in 2006. In 2007 she joined the board of the United Services Automobile Association. She recently visited the region, holding autograph sessions for her book, Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars: The Story of the First American Woman to Command a Space Mission