BAY RIDGE’S PS 102, “THE BAY VIEW SCHOOL,” CELEBRATES DIVERSITY WITH COMPLETION OF A NEW SCHOOLYARD MURAL
Inspired by Students and Painted by a Corps of Youth and Adult Volunteers,
A Colorful New View Calls Out To The Community With A Message of “Welcome”
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – (June 1, 2011) Vincent Van Gogh is purported to have said, “Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul.” That observation is certainly true of the recently completed “Welcome” Mural at PS 102 in Bay Ridge, which reflects not only the hundreds of souls that helped bring it to life, but also the soul of the community itself, one that is rich in both heritage and diversity of population.
Parents, teachers, students and community volunteers participated in the planning and execution of the mural, which uses a series of visual vignettes to reveal the story of how a lone child is welcomed into the community by a variety of individuals. Images and messages throughout the painting reflect how students said they would make people welcome in their own homes. Local artist Sam Wisneski and other artists affiliated with the Storefront Arts Center led more than 400 volunteers throughout the six-week project.
The “Welcome” mural was made possible through the generous sponsorship of numerous neighborhood and arts-oriented organizations, including Alacrity Financial Services, Storefront Arts Center, Nyack College, Paulino Development, 20/20 Vision for Schools, the PS 102 PTA and the PS 102 Garden Group. More than a mere work of art, it has turned a blank brick wall in the open yard of the K-5 school into a message to all who view it that just as PS 102 openly accepts all into its fold and offers every family an equal opportunity for social, academic and certainly cultural enrichment, so, too, should all members of the community embrace the diversity that surrounds them.
“We’d like to think that this mural does more than simply transform a blank ‘canvas’ into a more aesthetically pleasing vision,” says Jeremy Del Rio, parent of a graduating fifth grader and mural coordinator. “While it’s easy for newcomers or those who simply feel different to find themselves on the outside looking in, the mural illustrates how the simple act of making such individuals feel welcome adds strength and vibrancy from which all will benefit.”
The mural is permanently on display to the students who use the yard to play, to the parents who drop off and pick up their children, to the school’s staff as they pass through the yard or, for many of them, as they peer out the windows of their classrooms, and to all who pass along 71st Street between 3rd and Ridge Avenues on their way through the Bay Ridge neighborhood.
Creating the mural has drawn out the artistic skills and interests of young and not-so-young, brought people together around the concept of acceptance and appreciation of the broad spectrum of influences within the community, and yielded an enduring message of hope and inspiration for generations to come, School Principal Theresa Dovi said.
“Good things can and do happen in schools. In a time when the arts and arts education are being threatened, PS 102 is demonstrating how important they are not only to our students while they’re here with us, but also to everyone in our community as they continue through their lives. Projects like this turn good schools into great schools and good kids into great students and citizens.”
PS 102 will hold a mural ribbon cutting on Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 11:00 followed by a school yard celebration lasting until 3 pm. Open to the community, the celebration will provide opportunities to view the mural and speak with some of the many contributors to its completion. There will also be music, inflatables, games, food, and prizes. For more information, contact Parent Coordinator Margaret Sheri at email@example.com, or call the school office at (718) 748-7404.
Note to editors: To see how the PS 102 Welcome Mural has evolved, please visit the project’s blog at https://ps102mural.wordpress.com. To arrange a “guided tour” of the mural or an interview with the chief artists, contact Jeremy Del Rio at (646) 334-3627 or via email at jeremy[dot]delrio[at]gmail[dot]com.