2011-04-29 / Community

Rockaway Waterfront Alliance Celebrates Earth Day

While the ground is thawing outside the soon to be planted Children’s Garden at the Ocean Bay Community Center, the students who participate in the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance afterschool program have been busy indoors exploring artistic methods with an environmental vision. In the month of February the students began a series of courses introducing them to printmaking practices which will culminate in a group silk screening project that can be viewed at Rockaway’s Earth Day Festivities this coming Saturday, April 30.

The RWA afterschool group at Ocean Bay was awarded the opportunity to create some of this year’s Rockaway Earth Day graphic representation. In their workshops the children learned that the silk screening technique has been in use since 900 A.D in China and was popularized by American artists such as Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg in the 1960s. However, the most significant part of the practice to the Rockaway youth is that silk screening is an affordable, people-powered, and beautiful method, used by many cultures throughout the world, of spreading a message about humanitarian and ecological concerns throughout a community.

The first session of the workshop was comprised of the students brainstorming the messages they think are significant to the Earth Day theme and the Rockaways. There was an abundance of peace signs, and messages for a more peaceful Far Rockaway, Fishes, Birds, Water signs, Clean Up and Go Green slogans. The thoughts were turned to images by using discarded Styrofoam from local groceries into which the students etched their images and words and then rolled acrylic paints over the palette. They printed the relieved foam onto poster board. In the second session of the workshops, visiting artist Ross Pike joined the group to help them formalize their ideas about how to represent Earth Day, graphically, as a team. He had the students draw their ideas about what is going wrong in the world and what is going right. Then he had each one of the students draw what the planet Earth looked like to them. Pike, an experienced graphic artist who specializes in communicating environmental issues, will work with the students’ images to help create silk screens that children will work from for their final project. The students look forward to sharing their message for Rockaway Earth Day at the event this spring.

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