Art as a Catalyst for Change
Our seventh mural at P.S/M.S 183 Q Dr. Richard Green School is complete! Made possible through Art as a Catalyst for Change, a city-wide program initiated by several NYC Council members and dozens of activists as a way to raise awareness and end gun violence, through art. Above all, the project centered around uplifting community strengths and embracing collective dreams.
Thrive teaching artists Kadeem Phillip, Sal Chen, and Emily Gooden curated ideas with seventh and eighth grade students. After that, they came up with the “A Space to Dream” project theme. As the artists worked with students to curate the mural’s theme, conversations centered around the student’s values, what they wished to see in their neighborhoods, and what kinds of things brought them peace and happiness.
Additionally, Thrive teamed up with the School’s Out New York City (SONYC) after-school program and worked with middle schoolers interested in transforming their ideas through art. The exterior door murals were inspired by the work of Faith Ringgold. “The elementary schoolers were reading Tar Beach,” Sal explained. She decided to share the book with the middle school artists to help draw inspiration out of them. “You know, you’re never too old for story time,” she said.
In homage to Ringgold’s style, the mural features a quilt pattern around the perimeter. The student-drawn images capture Ringgold’s ability to use art to tell the stories of life. At the same time, the artwork imbues those stories with magic and imagination.
The mural project occurred at three different areas on the school grounds—the school’s accessible rampway, the stairwell entrance wall surfaces, and two metal exterior doors on the side of the school that lead to the playground.
Emily Gooden explained that the artists used Ringgold’s quilt pattern to share student ideas on the exterior doors: “All the areas that they’re from, it’s supposed to be things they want to change there—things like gun violence. They just wanted something positive, something that offers them joy, flowers, music.”
“The happiest feeling was allowing the kids to express themselves clearly. We used a lot of their drawings and I’m glad they were allowed to be used in this project,” added project art director Kadeem Phillip.
A Triumphant Mural
The other murals at P.S. 183Q celebrates the school’s recent victory in the NYC Middle School Basketball Leagues Queens Varsity Championship and emphasizes the school’s HUSKY mascot and motto. Teaching artists Sal Chen and Danny Diodato directed the ramp artwork. During the parade, students and teachers enjoyed reading their school’s values aloud as they walked the ramp: Honesty, Understanding, Self-control, Kindness, and You are a leader!
“This mural has a triumphant and triple value for our learning community,” said the school principal, Dr. Maureen Campbell.
Moreover, the ribbon-cutting celebration involved the entire school. Elementary schoolers clapped and cheered for the middle schoolers who designed and helped paint their new murals before going on a mural parade tour, where they walked the school grounds to admire the new projects. Thank you, P.S./M.S. 183 Q, for making this project possible!