Enrichment Murals for P.S. 171

17 Apr

What: painting/touching up canvas and wall murals

Where: PS 171, through New York Cares

When: Saturday, 10am-3pm

This project happens monthly, and was pretty straightforward. The hardest part was finding the school itself, so stick to the directions you’re given and you’ll be fine. About 10-15 volunteers gather in the cafeteria and are then split into two groups: one group ventured off into the hallways to touchup previously painted murals, getting rid of graffiti and scratches. I was in the other group, made up of those who felt they had slightly- higher-than-average painting abilities. We were each given a large canvas that had a pencil sketch of a popular book cover- done via projector by a girl who I assume is a regular volunteer- to start/finish painting. Some people returned to finish their work from the month prior, and the team leader ensured that those people could get their murals back. The rest of us newbie’s had to finish someone else’s work -which is harder than doing it from scratch- or start our own mural (it’s likely you won’t finish one in a day).

This is a good project for artists (former and current) that want to lend their skills to a school in need of some pizazz, or really, anyone who doesn’t mind spending the day painting in a relaxed environment. This is NOT the place to go paint that masterpiece you’re been putting off since high school art class, or if you’re a perfectionist. You’ll be using worn out brushes and a rotating supply of old latex-based paint from a can. I’m not saying you won’t be able to paint something amazing, because some of the canvas murals were pretty sweet. I’m just saying it won’t be easy. Other things to know:

  • You can talk to other volunteers but for the most part, everyone keeps their head down and paints. So feel free to bring your iPod and headphones.
  • Even if you think your work is horrible, the elementary-age children you’re painting for will be impressed and think it’s awesome. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • This activity is an obvious lure for artists; if that’s you, you’ll get to meet like-minded people who not only enjoy painting, but volunteering as well.
  • Bonus: Not relaxing enough? This school is within walking distance of the Central Park Conservatory Garden. In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the city that often goes unnoticed. It’s accessible, it’s free, and it’s a great way to end a day of painting and art.

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