For many artists, having their work on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art represents a career capstone. But for 12-year-old Anydelka Burgos, an incoming 8th grader at I.S. 229 in the Bronx, seeing her mixed media painting “Rites of Spring” prominently featuredat The Met isn’t so much an indication of how far she’s come as it is of how far she will go.
“It shows that I have potential,” says Burgos of her artwork, made from torn newspaper, ink and acrylic on paper.
Burgos’ “Rites of Spring” is one of 89 works of art currently on display in The Met’sP.S. Art 2016: Celebrating the Creative Spirit of New York City Kidsexhibition. Now in its ninth year at The Met,P.S. Artshowcases paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs and mixed-media creations from New York City public school students in prekindergarten through grade 12 and from all five boroughs.
In a highly competitive selection process, the 1,205 submissions citywide were winnowed down to 89 pieces that stood out for their inventive use of materials and clarity of artistic expression.
Inclusion in the exhibit is due in no small part to ambitious assignments devised by art teachers like I.S. 229’s Gilbert Fletcher, who spotted a unique talent in Burgos and pushed her to go beyond what she thought herself capable of.
In a lesson entitled “Working with Nature,” Fletcher posed a challenge to his students. Constraints often breed creativity, so he gave them strict parameters: They had to incorporate newspaper scraps in their mixed media creations to prevent the work from looking too “perfect.” Then he introduced a wet-over-dry scumbling technique that students washed over torn paper, ink and acrylic “to give it an additional vibrance, and luminance in the paint,” explains Fletcher.
Burgos (who talks at length about her work in the video below) took the assignment to the next level by incorporating complex shading and a nuanced use of color. The bold placement of the large flower in the right of the frame was another artistic flourish that stood out to her teacher.
“It was interesting seeing how they were solving problems to make it work with the newspaper, which they didn’t like [at first],” says Fletcher of the creative process.
A handful of accomplished students featured in the exhibit are given the opportunity to continue their cultivating their artistic talents. Graduating high school seniors will receive a financial award to go toward their education, and high school students are invited to register for free classes at Studio in a School’s program for teens. What’s more, a select number of artworks from the exhibit were displayed on digital screens in Times Square last month.
For Fletcher, seeing his student on display in one of the world’s most prestigious museums is inextricably tied to each and every assignment behind the final product.
“It’s exciting to see them not necessarily have their work here, but to be dedicated enough to do the work, to have the possibility of getting here.”
P.S. Art 2016is on exhibit at the Met Fifth Avenue through October 23rd.