The Renewal Arts Collective launches a new public art project at PS 17 in Jersey City

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Above and below: crocheted decorations made from used plastic bags.

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Today’s post presents a new public art project by the Renewal Arts Collective, a recently formed group consisting of three current VCS students (Santiago Chavez, Casey Schultz, and Victoria Hristoff) and alumna Jinhee Kwak, working under the guidance of faculty member Amy Wilson. The collective is preparing to decorate the trailers that house the pre-k and kindergarten classes at Joseph H. Brensinger No. 17 Elementary School on Bergen Avenue in Jersey City, a school with about 1200 students ranging from pre-k to 8th grade.

Here are some comments by Wilson about the Renewal Arts Collective and the their plans for the school:

The project grew out of an ongoing conversation I’ve been having with students about how to bring art to the public in a meaningful way. What I’ve been finding is that many of our VCS students want to interact with communities outside of the Manhattan “elite” art world, and so I’ve been working with them, trying to connect them to opportunities that will allow them to do just that. I was introduced to the PS 17 community through a mom in our neighborhood here in Jersey City, Gina Verdibello, who put me in touch with their principal, Robert Brower. I was very impressed with both the school and the administrators there, and especially glad to see that they have a strong commitment to the arts and a willingness to expose their students to new things.

There have been some studies on student environments and the effects on learning (for example, this one and this one), and just anecdotally it’s known among educators that the overall environment—and the aesthetics of that environment—has a strong impact on students’ attitudes, behavior, retention, and creativity.

Plans for the site include priming and painting the ramp railings of the classrooms (see the mockup below and Wilson’s comments in the caption) and adorning the chain link fence around the school with crocheted decorations made from discarded plastic bags (shown above). The Collective’s Facebook page has a few images of the site and some of the things they’re preparing for it, along with more information about the project. Work at the site is going to start in a couple days, so I’ll post and update with more images sometime next week.

Here is a mock-up of how we will paint the portable classroom rails at PS 17. The kids spend a lot of time on these rails before and after class, and during recess. The only problem is that they are splintery, hot and falling apart. Help us make this little change that could have a huge impact!! Message us to find out how you can help! (Mockup by RAC Student-Artist Casey Schultz.)

Amy Wilson comments: “Here is a mock-up of how we will paint the portable classroom rails at PS 17. The kids spend a lot of time on these rails before and after class, and during recess. The only problem is that they are splintery, hot and falling apart. Help us make this little change that could have a huge impact!! Message us to find out how you can help! (Mockup by RAC Student-Artist Casey Schultz.)” [via the RAC Facebook page]

Visual & Critical Studies