Stuyvesant’s Tape Murals: A Response to Shared Worries
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Walk on the first, second, and 10th floor of Stuyvesant these days, and one would not be able to miss the colorful murals adorning the walls. These pieces of art are murals made of tape created by freshman students of Art Appreciation teacher Jeanie Chu.
The project centers around the topic of shared worries among the student body upon their return to school. “The emotional realms or parts of being a student [are] not as kind of dealt with or not discussed as often in a number of classes within high school,” Chu said. “We are inextricably part of a community and we need community, so the tape art murals themselves [were] to allow students to take ownership as a school.”
The 25 tape murals are the group portion of a larger endeavor, which includes students’ individual colored pencil works that will also be displayed alongside the murals. These projects explored questions such as: What is the kind of school community you would like to see at Stuyvesant? How can we make the things we struggle with every day visible? What does it mean to be empathetic? What benefit or power is there in empathy?
Because of its free-formed nature, there were few regulations in creating the art. “There [weren’t] any restrictions. It just had to be [in] a clear space and anything we [could] reach. We were allowed to choose how big we wanted it to be,” freshman Muna Faruqi said. Her group created the mural in the second floor staircase, depicting the family-school-life balance that many Stuyvesant students struggle to maintain.
Students focused on different facets of what it means to be a part of the Stuyvesant community. For freshman Imene Zarouri and her groupmates, whose first-floor project is titled “StuyHeartRadio” as a derivation of “iHeartRadio,” it meant the importance of checking in on each other. “You should be listening to other people to build a better community, and we kinda took this radio here, and you would be tuning into others, sort of like how you tune into radio stations, you tune into other people,” she said. “That’s supposed to create a better community.”
Creating these murals was a new experience for many, especially when using tape. “It’s different because it’s one of the first times I’ve ever put up a mural in a school or worked with others to put up a mural,” Faruqi said. “And, it was my first time working with tape as a material to make art.”
Besides appearing as an unusual medium, the tape had notable characteristics that made it ideal for the project. “The tape itself was direct as well as immediate,” Chu said. “They actually developed their own techniques too, so you will see throughout different murals the handling with the tape and the kind of textures they were able to produce with it.”
Despite the simplicity of using tape as an art medium, students still used specific techniques to work with it. “I would do it again so I could work more on the skills [like] making curves with the tape, making texture with the tape, and [using] color [to] produce a mood,” Faruqi said.
Many enjoyed participating in the project as it was a novel experience. “It was definitely something new. I did really like the project because it was my first time working with tape,” Faruqi said.
Others agreed and enjoyed the anonymity, understanding that people can enjoy it without the need to attribute the work. “It’s really cool because people could pass by it and [...] they see the progress,” Zarouri said. “It’s cool not knowing who worked on it.”
Students outside of Chu’s class appreciate seeing the works around the building. “It’s really cool that [students] are doing this. I see the murals when I'm walking up to [AP] Art History, and they’re so pretty [and] really colorful, and I like all the little details,” sophomore Sophia Mueller said.
In the future, Chu hopes to lead similar projects to bring an impact outside of the classroom. “We definitely [...], for Art [Appreciation] or any kind of art studio courses, [...] are exhibiting; that’s all part of the nature of producing art—it has to be exhibited,” she said. “Right now, I would say nothing said in plans yet, but I’m hoping because I think it has made a difference in our experience as we walk through the halls.”