Students promote social action through public art

Bench murals dedicated to social change on display in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

By Juan Arturo Trillo

Queens elementary school students gathered at Flushing Meadows Corona Park early on Monday, June 6, to unveil a series of murals, which they painted on park benches to highlight social change.

The artwork unveiling included speeches from organizers with CEI Benchmarks, a student arts residency program operated by the New York-based Center for Educational Innovation.

Two of the social action bench murals displayed in Flushing Meadow Park.

Students from area schools worked with classmates and art instructors to choose a social issue, and paint a bench dedicated to that topic. CEI Benchmarks slogan reads, “youth setting the standard for social change.”

The students chose a variety of different topics, including racism, inequality, bullying and climate change.

“Our message with this bench is to show everyone that inequality is unfair and we should all be treated equally,” one fourth grade student from P.S. 128 said.

Others, who were disgusted by the videos of bullying they saw on the internet and that they witnessed at school, painted the “no bully” bench, dedicated to condemning bullying and promoting friendship.

Theresa Rosinsky, a CEI teaching artist, said, “it’s important for them to know that people are listening to them and that they’re not forgotten.”

She added that the youth is the future who will one day take over the planet.

“It’s important to listen to them and listen to what matters to them,” Rosinsky concluded.

Another bench mural on display, focused on the topic of discrimination. The bench seat includes names of people of color who were victims of discrimination that caused them to die.

The bench murals will be available for viewing in Flushing Meadows Corona Park until September 19th, and throughout the U.S. Open, which will be held at the neighboring Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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