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Queens Chronicle

Lunch tables turned into influential art

Queens students address health, social issues at borough parks

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Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:06 pm, Thu Jun 30, 2011.

Students from two Queens schools are working hard to alter the lifestyles of future generations by providing new sitting areas to eat healthy lunches.

On June 15, students of PS 75 in Ridgewood and PS 9 in Maspeth set up lunch tables at Forest and Juniper Valley parks. The tables were sanded, painted, decorated and covered in EnviroTex resin by the students and teachers of the Learning through an Expanded Arts Program, a nonprofit arts education organization.

LEAP Deputy Director Alexandra Leff explained that there were ten lunch tables created by LEAP students, two per borough.

“This is the largest student art exhibition in the history of NYC parks and the first to span all five boroughs,” Leff said.

This is the fourth year this program is running and the lunch table art will be on display through August.

“We feel that this project allows young people to speak out about key social problems within their communities,” Leff said. “That’s why the parks are near the schools. They speak to the community.”

LEAP also allows students to meet and learn from famous artists. This year students visited the studios of Milton Glaser and Seth Wulsin. Glaser is well known for creating the “I love NY” tourism logo and Wulsin is best known for “16 Tons,” the metal art that was installed on the side of the Caseros Prison building in Buenos Aires before it was demolished.

At Forest Park in Woodhaven, visitors can find “A Healthy City Is A Happy City,” which focuses on nutrition and living a long, happy life. At Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village, “A Healthy State Of Mind” focuses on being healthy and proactive.

Abu Aderemi, a seventh grader at PS 75, is proud of the table and feels it’s going to influence people to eat healthier.

“It was really fun, and we learned how to be neat, mix colors and use new art tools,” Aderemi said.

Most of the students involved with “A Healthy State Of Mind” are eighth graders. Valencia Carroll will be attending Long Island City High School next fall, and she said, “We were all trying to get people to understand what’s going into their bodies.”

Photographs of fruit and vegetables, collages of other pieces of art and rarely displayed nutritional facts are all part of the project at Juniper Valley Park.

“We wanted facts on the table so people could know just what they’re eating when they sit there,” Angelica Gomez said.

The multiple heads on “A Healthy State Of Mind” represent people who are thinking about healthy living.

“We really focused on the heads and keeping our brains active,” said Anthony Cooper, who’s going to Thomas Edison High School next fall.

Welcome to the discussion.