By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NEW YORK CITY — Students in ten public middle schools have painted all over school lunchroom tables.
But instead of heading for detention, the students are heading for an art opening in Union Square Park on May 22, where they’ll present their colorful tables and speak about the social issues that inspired their work.
It’s all part of a public art project organized by the Learning through an Expanded Arts Program in cooperation with the Parks Department. It's being promoted as the largest student exhibition in the history of New York City parks.
Called “A View from the Lunchroom: Students Bringing Issues to the Table,” the middle-schoolers have painted about concerns like bullying, gay rights, environmental awareness and gang violence.
Students from Brooklyn’s Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented in Coney Island took up the issue of pollution and the environment on their table, painted to show people tending a grassy waterfront filled with trees and birds. A city looms in the background, and an hourglass symbolizes an approaching natural deadline.
Students at P.S. 53, also in Coney Island, focused on the role technology plays in helping to foster better communication and peace in the world. On their table they painted the evolution of communication technology, from two cans connected by a string all the way to modern mobile technology.
The students painted this message on the bench: “The keys to peace are in our hands. Communicate with each other.”
Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott is fine with the table painting.
The public art program, in its fifth floor, "gives our students a citywide platform to showcase their artistic talents and generate awareness for important issues facing their communities,” he said.
At Union Square in Manhattan, Walcott joined Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey and guest artist Emma Amos to honor the students.
In Brooklyn, tables painted by Mark Twain students will in Coney Island's Kaiser Park; work by P.S. 53 students will be installed in Park Slope's Detective Joseph Mayrose Park.