New York City students across all five boroughs today debuted the largest art exhibition in the history of NYC parks. Using lunchroom tables as canvas, the students created artwork that expressed their views on social issues such as bullying, racism, gay rights, and discrimination.
Entering Morningside Park, along the path closest to the pond, you’ll notice an object that seems out of place. As you get closer, splashes of reds, greens, blues, and yellows glisten in the light, and you realize what you’re looking at is a lunchroom table, although not your everyday variety. This lunchroom table is an artwork created by middle school students from Robert E. Simon School 165M to represent courage against bullying.
The table is part of the largest student art exhibition in the history of NYC parks. Hosted by Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LeAp)’s Public Art Program and created by students in 10 NYC schools (two per borough), it is the first of its kind to span all five boroughs. Titled A View from the Lunchroom: Students Bringing Issues to the Table, the public art exhibit explores social issues such as gun violence, police brutality, gay rights, child neglect, and bullying. It is currently on view through Aug. 31.
Students from Robert E. Simon middle school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side pose with their lunchroom-table-turned-artwork, on which they painted peaceful solutions to bullying in both English and Spanish.
Alexandra Leff, creator and director of LeAp’s Public Art Program, says the tables aim to explore social issues in the community. “The idea of the program is to hopefully inspire [the students] and make them realize that they can make a difference in the world,” she adds.
Each year, two middle school classes from each of the five boroughs are chosen by the school to participate in LeAp’s program. Students meet with distinguished artists and explore their studios and exhibits, raising their awareness of the power behind art.
Danica Baptiste and Skyler Hart, sixth-graders at Robert E. Simon School, said participating in the program has made them feel empowered when it comes to bullying. Skyler’s contribution to the table collage is of a young girl who gets bullied by boys. After completing the LeAp program, she says she is more confident.
At the kickoff event today in Morningside Park, many students said they believe the lunchroom tables will inspire those who see the exhibit.
“This table is going to inspire some people to stop bullying in schools,” sixth-grader Azariah Edwards said.
“I think the table we created is going to stop bullying because the table reminds people that we need to step up and do something about [it],” sixth-grader Breanna Ureña said.
Robert E. Simon School art teacher and artist Alix Delinois, known to his middle-schoolers as “Mr. D,” said he and his students witnessed the table transform from artwork into a form of activism.
Tables will be on display through Aug. 31 at the following locations:
Tiger Playground, featuring 53K
Washington Park, featuring Park Slope School 282K
Crotona Park, featuring New Venture Academy 219X
Old Fort Four Park, The New School for Leadership and Journalism 244X
Seward Park, featuring University Neighborhood Middle School 332M
Morningside Park, featuring Robert E. Simon School 165M
Juniper Valley Park, featuring Walter Reed School 9Q
Evergreen Park, featuring Robert E. Peary School 75Q
Snug Harbor Cultural Center, featuring PS/IS 25R
Silver Lake Park, featuring William A. Morris 61R
For more information, visit leapnyc.org or call 212-769-4160.