RWA Holds Art Classes At Ocean Bay
"Graffiti is like bubble letters," explained a student in Rockaway Waterfront Alliance's Environmental Justice class at Ocean Bay Community Center. "Yes, it can be a bubble letter but it is also art," was the response given by environmental justice teacher Iemanja Brown. Students explored the ideas of graffiti in the classroom and its relation to how it affects the environment and neighborhoods. Many students pointed out the toxins that are released from spray cans such as aerosols and the strange smells that come from the paint itself. Although many of the students would never admit to personally making graffiti, they talked about their personal experiences with friends that had.
Students explored why someone might make graffiti, but also the alternatives to graffiti as an expression of art. "Does anyone know what moss is? I know this might not seem as though it is related but you will see in a second," prompted Brown as the students yelled out answers to finally be greeted with a bag of moss seeds and wood. The students' eyes grew in disbelief as Brown explained that you can actually make art that is safe, pretty, and helps to clean the air; that is, not adding more toxins but integrating moss as the tool for creating graffiti. Pictures were shown of larger pieces that were created in Brooklyn to help the students to visualize the objective for the day; then they readily began to make their own art on driftwood and sea shells that were collected from the beaches of Rockaway.
The students thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and although a few were hesitant to touch the fuzzy, green mix of moss, gelatin, and water, everyone in the class completed an art piece. Together, the students created a sign for their garden, in which are now blossoming lettuce, spinach, and herbs.