AT PS317Q THE WATERSIDE CHILDREN’S STUDIO SCHOOL IN ROCKAWAY PARK,
NEW YORK, A MURAL IS CREATED TO HELP STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY
HEAL FROM THE DEVASTATION OF HURRICANE SANDY.
Art educator Allison Belolan wanted to do something special for students at PS317Q the Waterside Children’s Studio School, as well as their parents and the community of Rockaway Park, New York – a gesture to help residents heal from the devastating effects of hurricane Sandy.
After the hurricane struck, the school was displaced. Belolan reached out to her alma mater, the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in Manhattan for donations for art supplies.
In a collaborative effort, Belolan and the students came up with the idea of doing a mural in conjunction with the school’s Enrichment Clusters, a program in which Belolan has been involved since its inception in 2009 when the school first opened.
When Belolan reached out to SVA, she not only obtained donations of art supplies, once the mural idea was conceived she won the interest of her former instructor, Michael Filan, a faculty member in SVA’s Master’s of Arts Department Program, who wanted to participate in the project, and is now a hands-on participant.
Thus, began a collaboration involving Belolan, Filan, and 15 students in the third through fifth grades, and ages 8-10. On March 1, 2013, they began work on an 8′ x 16′ mural located in the school’s auditorium lobby. Students were asked to sketch ideas, and Belolan created a composite image with their drawings. Images were projected and traced on the mural site. Painting began on April 5 and the mural is scheduled for completion on June 7. The mural has yet to be named, but “giving it a title will be one of our closing exercises towards the end of the project when we reflect on what took place,” said Belolan.
All students in the mural cluster selected mural making as one of the options for this Enrichment Cluster cycle. The Enrichment Cluster program at Waterside Children’s Studio School was initiated to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment where creativity and artistic expression are integral to the academic and emotional success of every child. Through music, drama, visual arts, film, technology, writing and dance, a rigorous and progressive curriculum empowers students to grow academically, creatively and socially. It is crafted to help students acquire the critical thinking, personal integrity and self esteem that go beyond the classroom walls.
“Everyone is sad about the hurricane and I thought we could make a mural to bring inspiration to the Rockaways,” said Alicia Milan, age ?, one of the mural artists. Another student, Jahlil Browne, age ?, commented that he picked the mural cluster “because at first I didn’t know what a mural was, and I thought I could try something new instead of doing the same old thing. “
Before attending the School of Visual Arts, Allison Belolan worked as a costume jewelry designer for several years. She has a B.F.A. in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, and an Associates degree in Jewelry Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“I have been enjoying working on the mural so much; it is a project meant to be” said Filan.
“Working with a former student has been a pleasure and a gift. The children have gone through so much in the last few months. It is great to see them so happy while working on the mural. As an artist I feel it’s important to give back to your community.”
PS317Q The Waterside Children’s Studio School is located at I-90 Beach 110 Street, Rockaway Park, New York.