The new works of art unveiled Wednesday at the Citibank Building in Long Island City are not the work of famous artists. They are all created by students from public schools across the five boroughs.
The paintings and sculptures are all part of the 14th Annual Student Art Exhibition hosted by the non-profit LeAp, or Learning Through an Expanded Arts Program.
“We're dedicated to helping children excel academically using the arts, and arts as a vehicle to teach academic subjects,” said LeAp Executive Director, Ila Gross, who founded the group 38 years ago. “In the beginning, we were very small. But we've worked with over two million New York City Public School students in that time.”
The art on display is the work of students in kindergarten through sixth grade. They have all taken part in a LeAp program at their school.
Students from PS 209 in Whitestone painted portraits of famous Americans, and said they had a lot of fun being creative while learning something new at the same time.
“I painted Ben Franklin,” said fifth-grader Brian Wang. “He was an inventor. He invented several things, like one of them was the lightning rod to prevent lighting from just hitting buildings.”
Yuming Chen, who painted a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, says he had to use his imagination because his work was based on an old photo of the nation's 16th President.
“It came from a black-and-white, and I just imagined what colors the skin would be,” Chen said.
“I made Harriet Tubman,” said Isabella Frey, also a fifth-grader at PS 209. “I mixed different colors in order to get the right color for, like, the background and her clothes. And I looked at a black-and-white picture and it was pretty hard because you can't really see the outline of it. But it was fun.”
That combination of fun and learning is what LeAp organizers say it's all about.
“It's wonderful because now we've found a way to identify - have these kids identify- with not only their local community, but with their Founding Fathers, as well,” added Gross.
The artwork will be on display in the Citibank Building Atrium in Long Island City until the end of the year.