Middle school students from across the city are getting the chance to have their artwork put on display in city parks thanks to Learning through an Expanded Arts Program’s (LeAp) public art program.
Students from P.S. 9 Walter Reed School in Queens participated in the public art program where they expressed their thoughts on the issues of animal abuse and animal endangerment through the power of art.
The project, titled “A View from the Lunchroom Students Bringing Issues to the Table,” tasked students with painting a lunchroom table to help raise awareness for their topic of choice.
“A lot of animals are being killed for their tusks or to make food,” said Demitirius Morris, student of P.S. 9 at I.S. 5. “It was fun making the table. We want to tell people to be nice to animals and protect the Earth. It is most important to me because I have a dog.”
“We are proud to put our table in Juniper Valley Park in Queens, New York,” said Vincent Suraty, a student at Walter Reed School.
The public art program allows public school students to have a voice in their communities and speak out on the social issues that matter to them. The children work with a LeAp teaching artist to explore the critical issues in their communities, study the history of the issues raised and learn how to express themselves through art.
“The idea is to target this age group to show them that adults respect what they have to say,” said Alexandra Leff, director of LeAp’s public art program. “We give them this public forum to express themselves and empower them to have a voice through artwork.”
The students learned from the LeAp teaching artist how to use art as a form of expression, and how their message can reach many people.
“We teach the students about symbolism in art, how to use color and to visually express their message,” said Christy Powers, LeAp teaching artist. “We teach them how important that is, especially in Queens, with such a diverse population and people speaking different languages. Art has a way to emotionally impact you.”
Walter Reed School was just one of 10 schools from all five boroughs to have their artwork displayed in city parks. This art program is the largest student art exhibition in the history of New York City parks, and the first to span the five boroughs.