Art and the Transformation of a Queens High School – 5Pointz Returns to Queens

Garn Press regards the arts central to the curriculum, but the corporate insurgence in public schools has decimated school art, music, or drama programs. Often fanatical and almost always ill-informed “reformers” are transgressing well-researched boundaries of human development. The impact of the elimination of the arts from schools on children’s present and future lives is cause for serious concern.

In the post on the poetry of STEM we quoted Paul Myers, Chair of Computer Science, Trinity University, who states, “As sciences, technology and computing become ever more powerful forces in the world, it’s important that the people piecing these things together are ethical and bring in the human attributes that are central to a liberal arts education.”

We argued that in the U.S. the cuts in funding are resulting in the actual extinction of some thought communities and that we must be vigilant.

In the coming weeks Garn will make the case that protecting these thought communities – which are of no importance or interest to the corporate insurgence in the public schools – is a matter of survival for intelligent life on Earth. A technical mind without the capacity to think imaginatively is limited in possibility, and the specter of an explosion of technological “advancements” makes us vulnerable to catastrophic and event cataclysmic events.

And so Garn Press is pleased to have this opportunity to support the more than 100 artists who have created a vibrant thought community and have brought their re-Visioning and re-Imagining to August Martin High School in Jamaica, Queens, where they have transformed the school into a massive graffiti gallery. Into what had become a barren corporate school reformers’ industrial space, the artists introduced functional and aesthetic scripts, visual stories and poetry, writing as an art form, and lettering as design. They brought recognition to the physicality of print, of how tools and materials influence composition, and most importantly how learning is a “mindful” social practice in which all can participate.

“We need to reinvent ourselves and the way to reinvent ourselves is to empower students,” Principal Gillian Smith is reported to have said about the project. “The building looks magnificent.”

Gillian Smith, Garn Press salutes you. It was a courageous act. In the minds of your students the brilliance of the art will outlive the tedium and drudgery of corporate reform. You have not only provided your students with an opportunity to re-imagine the role the arts play in their own scholarship, but you also have provided an opportunity for your teachers to participate in the creation of new understandings about writing as mindful social practice.

Essentially, you have created a pedagogical environment that is responsive to the needs of your students and the increasingly complex and inventive ways in which images and texts are used in society. Of equal importance, you have responded to the textual impoverishment and narrowing of the curriculum brought about by high stakes test preparation, which provides little opportunity for students to actively engage in creative and dynamic image and text production in empowering ways.

Related: The Poetry of STEM. A new series of editorial and blog posts from Garn Press which focus on initiatives that support reuniting the arts and sciences.

 

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