Fresh Artists brings children’s inside art OUT!
Most people walk or drive right past the grim, old public schools throughout our cities, and, unless you have a school-age child, you never see what’s inside. These dreary buildings surely don’t telegraph – "a vibrant, interesting education lies within.” In fact, monikers used to describe these dark big-city-schools range from “dingy” and “depressing” to “demoralizing.”
Fresh Artists aims to transform those impressions to “dazzling,” “delightful”, and “disarming” with an inventive new program.
Specialty Graphic Imaging giants make it all possible
Seeing the opportunity to experiment with the high-tech, large-format digital equipment donated to Fresh Artists by industry giants like Mutoh, HP and Ergosoft, Fresh Artists designed a way to apply our signature, scaled-up children’s art to the facade of these old schools, making them more appealing and hospitable and showcasing the art made by the lively, talented, cheerful youngsters inside.
Natalie Catin-St.Louis, the visionary principal of Nebinger Elementary School in Philadelphia’s Queen Village neighborhood, fell in love with our proposal to transform the front of her school's austere façade into a colorful art gallery that would send he correct message to the world: "Nebinger is diverse, welcoming, excellent and fun.”
The secret sauce: Chip Art
We proposed using our Chip Art project, featuring paper mosaic self-portraits made by 3rd-5th grade students using cut up, obsolete paint color sample chips donated by BEHR Paint. Chip Art is an innovative art program created by Fresh Artists in partnership with veteran retired art teacher Robyn Miller that keeps millions of these ubiquitous decorating gizmos from choking up landfills. An accomplished professional mosaic artist herself, Robyn lead the project in art teacher Leslie Grace’s classes, working with 32 children for more than 8 weeks. The original art was made on 8” squares of recycled cardboard, making it a “green” craft project.
The artists who created the portraits were all invited to have their work become part of Fresh Artists’ Collection, licensed for reproduction and exhibition in Fresh Artists’ installations throughout the country. These installations generate donations to Fresh Artists that are then used to deliver art supplies and innovative art programs (like Chip Art!) to schools struggling with slashes in art funding. Not only do Nebinger’s charming self-portraits festoon the facade of their school, the art also “goes to work” to fill empty art room shelves in poor schools throughout the country.
Upon completion, each 8” x 8” cardboard Chip Art portrait was digitally scanned at ultra high resolution at Fresh Artists studio. They were expertly color-corrected with an X-Right color spectrometer, then printed on an exterior-grade vinyl with an anti-graffiti laminate. The vinyl was applied to a rigid weatherproof substrate and mounted on cleats on top of wire grills that covered the basement storage areas of the school.
Let's have even more fun!
Just for an extra dose of fun, we interspersed seven Cray-pas drawings of outrageously silly animals made by 1st and 2nd graders in the style of the 20th century Mexican artist, Pedro Linares. Fanciful Oaxacan alebrijes are brilliantly-colored, imaginary papier mache animals created by the Linares family. This lesson, introduced by then student teacher Desiree Bender, caught our attention, and 20 pieces became part of our collection.
An interesting note: Roy Lin and Chally Dang each have two pieces of art on the Outdoor Art Gallery—their 5th grade self-portraits and their 2nd grade Linares alebrijes animals.
Nebinger’s façade gallery is Fresh Artists’ 4th weatherproof project. Our first project bringing indoor art outside was in 2014 at Chestnut Hill’s Fareway Farmer’s Market, followed by a spate of local then national art museums following suite. This outdoor installation was made possible through a generous gift from an anonymous neighbor-donor.