This past weekend over 100 artists — including such graffiti legends as T-Kid 170, Cey Adams, Cycle, Claw Money and Part One – transformed the blank white walls of August Martin High School into a dazzling, brilliant canvas. Curatated by Meres One with Marie Cecile Flaegul, the freshly-painted artworks represent a multitude of cultures, sensibilities and styles. While visiting yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to August Martin student, Justin Price.
This is all so amazing! Your school is an absolute wonderland! What inspired this magical change?
The walls in our school were recently painted white. They looked dull and unwelcoming. We wanted to bring color and life to our surroundings, so that we would look forward to coming to school. And we wanted to look at art that we could relate to and that reflected our culture.
Whose concept was this?
August Martin’s Future Project Dream Team surveyed 500 students to find out what change they most wanted in our school. The students’ consensus was that they wanted to change the appearance of the school’s interior.
Once you knew what you wanted to do, what were some of the challenges you faced?
We had to come up with a proposal and a budget. That took us at least a month. Then we had to identify artists who could work with us. That was our biggest challenge until we were introduced to Meres and Marie of 5Pointz.
How have things been working out since you met them?
Once we met up with Meres and Marie, everything went smoothly. Meres is an amazing artist and knows so many other amazing artists. And I just can’t say enough about Marie! She is so conscientious and caring.
Most of the students haven’t yet seen the murals. But what kind of response have you gotten from those who have seem them?
They love them. They can’t wait to pose for photos in front of them!
And how have the teachers responded to this project?
Their response has been positive. They know that if the students are happy and motivated, their jobs are easier.
And what about your principal, Ms. Smith?
She’s been 100% behind it. She’s worked hard to make sure that it happens and she has been here with us all weekend.
Why do you suppose there are so many underachievers among the students here?
Many of the students here lack the support systems they need, and they feel easily discouraged. So many are talented and really love discovering new things.
I don’t doubt it! What are your thoughts about this project and its possible impact?
I love it! It makes me so happy! And I think it will have a great impact on the other students.
Why is the project called Operation Skittles? I’ve been wondering about that!
Actually, there are two reasons! Skittles are colorful and this project brings color to our school. And Skittles are the favorite snack of Syreeta Gates, the Future Project Dream director here at August Martin.
Now that makes sense! How lucky you students at August Martin are to have realized Operation Skittles!
Note: Keep posted to the Street Art NYC Facebook page for more images and for news about an event at August Martin open to the public in early June.
Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky
1. T-Kid 170
2. Will Kasso
3. Cey Adams
4. Zeso and Awez
5, Miss Zukie
6. Kid Lew with August Martin principal Gillian Smith standing to his left
7. Part One
8. Meres One
9. Reme 821
10. Remiks and See TF
12. Sjembakkus – in from Amsterdam
13. BK Foxx