- location Bodine High School for International Affairs
September 15, 2011
About the Project
How does work that functions at the intersection between art and design challenge popular conceptions of: Art and Public Sphere
Spatial (mis) Conceptions
…..and help cultivate a more sustainable ethos?
Artist Beverly Fisher, experienced in working on Environmental Justice projects, was joined by Eurhi Jones in this sixth iteration of Environmental Justice. They collaborated with teens in our Art Education program, teachers and students at Bodine High School for International Affairs, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), and local community members to increase green space, beautify Bodine’s exterior with murals and tile-work, and transform the school into a bright and inviting learning space. The artists and teens in our Mural Corps program layered murals and mosaics inspired by water and water resource management onto the school’s exterior surfaces and worked with students at Bodine to design and create a garden. The school has since incorporated ongoing maintenance of the garden into its science curriculum, and English teachers have used the mural as a prompt for poetry and writing assignments.
The project has also strengthened the relationship between Bodine and its home neighborhood of Northern Liberties. Northern Liberties is a working class but rapidly gentrifying neighborhood with many creative and design savvy residents. The opportunity to be directly involved in the planning for a major public art project in the community has served as a valuable opportunity to forge a stronger partnership between the community and the school. Residents attended regular community meetings and provided input for the mural and the garden. They also worked with PHS to plant trees on the blocks around the school.
In addition to the suite of murals and mosaics that wrap all four school facades, we also collaborated with Scott Shall of International Design Clinic to create an urban garden and outdoor classroom space called ChainlinkGREEN. We created ChainlinkGREEN out of concrete that was displaced during the creation of the gardens, chain link fencing, and salvaged wood from sources. These component parts were re-shaped into a form that echoes the wave-like shapes in the mural itself and provides locations for whole classes and small groups to gather. The form also includes small raised beds and a trellis where plants will thrive during warm months. In addition to providing a place for learning, the project was intended to challenge popular assumptions of chainlink, rubble, and scrap as signs of urban decay.