In the third part of NY1's series "The Classroom Collection," Education reporter Lindsey Christ looks at a special part of the Public Art for Public Schools program that involves a unique opportunity for students.
While every new school building is supposed to get professional artwork, a few of those projects actually include students. It is a special type of commission, where the artist needs to be willing and able to collaborate with kids.
Brooklyn artist Dave Eppley has been working at P.S. 65 in Cypress Hills, where he has fourth graders working on a permanent, professional piece of artwork. He designs to make art and being an artist accessible.
"A lot of kids from my class I hope will realize that art is a profession that you can do. It's not something that's like Picasso, Rembrandt and van Gogh," says Eppley. "It's not something that's unattainable and mysterious and done in a cubicle."
The final work created by Epply and P.S. 65 students While several programs bring artists into public schools, this process is more complicated, since it results in a permanent work. The city pays anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000, and each piece takes several years. In two decades, the program has yielded just 50 projects.
The selection committees include artists, school officials, the building's architect and the principal.
"We wanted to get something that was a reflection of our community, of our population, and each of us brought in different ideas," says P.S. 65 Principal Daysi Garcia.
"I think it was just the right fit, and really kind of a dream opportunity for an artist," Eppley says.
Eppley works with vinyl tape, but at P.S. 65, students started with painting and then moved to photography to capture their neighborhood with disposable cameras.
The photographs, prints and paintings form flowers that will hang from a vine in the school cafeteria, a windowless basement room that badly needs life.
"They have a really good understanding of all the mediums I use, all the mediums that they can use, and how it's going to be fed into the project," says Eppley.
The vine will be transferred to panels and covered in resin, to make a piece Eppley hopes will still be bringing joy when his students' grandchildren are ready for school.