2012-06-20 / Features

Queens Students Speak Out On Community Issues Through Art In Historic Citywide Parks Exhibition

LeAp’s student artists of two Queens schools will present their original large-scale public artworks—school lunchroom tables that they transformed into beautiful and meaningful works of art addressing important social issues in their communities on June 14. These are two of 10 schools (two per borough) that have created public artworks that comprise the largest student art exhibition in the history of NYC parks and the first to span the five boroughs. Students will present their works at each park site and discuss the critical community issues they addressed—from bullying and violence to immigration and pollution. LeAp’s Public Art Exhibition will be on display through August in all 10 parks citywide and was created by LeAp in cooperation with NYC Parks & Recreation.
The Queens student artists/activists will present their artworks—which address important community issues at their local parks on the following date—they will be available for interviews.
10:00am: Students of 75Q at Forest Park
(Jackson Pond Playground corner of Myrtle Ave. and Park Lane South)
Issues addressed: BULLYING and INTOLERANCE: We all want to live in a world where anything is possible and the sky is the limit for every single person. But to do that, we need to stop bullying and being intolerant of people’s differences. We were inspired by Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and thought about our own dreams of the future.
12:00pm: Students of 9Q at Juniper Valley Park
(Near flagpole at Juniper Boulevard South at 78 St.)
Issues addressed: VIOLENCE and DRUG ABUSE: We are looking at how we can create a balance in our lives and community between the negative aspects like violence and drug abuse and the positive ones— so that we can have happy, successful futures with careers and families.
The Director of LeAp’s Public Art Program Alexandra Leff will be at each park event.
LeAp’s fifth-annual citywide student exhibition entitled A View From The Lunchroom Students Bringing Issues To The Table, seeks to empower young people to have a voice in their communities and to express themselves on issues of importance to them. School lunchroom tables are used as a canvas for this art project as they are a symbol of student ideas and conversations.
Students citywide created beautiful, colorful and meaningful works of art that addressed a wide range of community issues. For example, Manhattan students at Salk School of Science addressed the civil rights issues including gay rights. Bronx students at New Venture Academy 219X and Queens students of Robert E. Peary 75Q tackled the issue of bullying and intolerance while Staten Island students at Robert Randall School 373R addressed the issue of emotional literacy. Brooklyn students at 53K focused on the role technology in helping to foster better communication and peace in the world and students from Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented 239K addressed pollution and the environment.
Prior to the installation of the art tables in the 10 parks (two per borough), the students presented their artworks and spoke about the important issues they addressed at an opening event at Union Square Park on May 22nd. Many top city officials including Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott were there to honor and congratulate the students.
“LeAp’s Public Art Program gives our students a citywide platform to showcase their artistic talents and generate awareness for important issues facing their communities,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. “We are thrilled to have LeAp as a partner in our efforts to enhance arts education in the schools.”
“Once again New York City’s schoolchildren will become the city’s youngest public artists this summer, thanks to the efforts of LeAp,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “There is no better place to kick off this annual, socially-minded exhibit than in Union Square Park, where New Yorkers have been broadcasting their ideas for over a century. The students’ thought-provoking artwork is sure to enliven the City’s parks and raise awareness on the issues that are most important to them.”
This exhibition is part of LeAp’s Public Art Program. This year’s program began in January in 10 schools (two per borough), and LeAp teaching artists worked with students to explore community issues, study the history, practice and power of public art, and ultimately create works of artwork for exhibition on the surfaces of the lunchroom tables and expressing their ideas and feelings on these issues. Many internationally-renowned artists served as Guest Artists in this program and met with students at their studios or at the schools to discuss their work and the impact of public art. They include Christo, Mark di Suvero, Audrey Flack, Nari Ward, Mel Kendrick, Emma Amos, Sanford Biggers, Mary Mattingly, George Boorujy, and Daze,
LeAp’s Public Art Program was made possible by the generous support of NYC Parks & Recreation, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Fridolin Charitable Trust, HSBC Bank USA, NA, Hot Topic Foundation, Jack and Jill of America Foundation, Kinder Morgan Foundation, Richmond County Savings Foundation, Astoria Federal Savings, Lewis-Feigenbaum Charitable Trust, Auer’s Moving & Rigging Co., Inc., The Compleat Sculptor, Environmental Technology Inc., Mariano Brothers Specialty Moving, Whole Foods Market, Zabar’s, KADKO and CAMBRO. A very special thanks to NYC Department of Education and its Department of Facilities.
Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LeAp) is a nonprofit, arts education organization committed to improving the quality of public education through a unique, hands-on, arts-based approach to teaching the core curriculum. Since 1977, LeAp has provided more than two million New York City students in kindergarten through 12th grade with music, dance, theater, digital media, and visual arts programs that directly teach the academic curriculum.  LeAp offers in-school residencies, afterschool activities, teacher trainings, parent workshops, and assembly programs to schools citywide, conducts programs in hospitals, shelters, and cultural institutions and develops educational materials. LeAp is an innovative leader in the field of arts education, and has received major awards, grants, and endorsements from the United States Department of Education, New York City Department of Education, Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), The After School Corporation (TASC), and the offices of the mayor and governor.

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