Montauk School students showed off their original art to parents and teachers on Tuesday morning. Their work wasn't displayed on the walls of the auditorium, but on the concrete walls in front of the containers at Montauk Recycling Center.
An unlikely space to find paintings of seascapes, the project to bring art to the town's garbage facility began in the spring. Bob Stern, the president of Concerned Citizens of Montauk and his wife, Daphne, approached the school with an idea for original works of environmentally conscious art for the place Montauk brings its trash.
Paul Salzman, an art teacher, picked up and ran with the idea, according to Jeremy Samuelson, the executive director at CCOM, who was on hand to check out the students' work after it was hung on Tuesday.
Salzman asked his then seventh grade art students to come up with ideas. Nine submissions were ultimately chosen, one for each of the nine bins at the recycling center. The students, now eighth graders — Wendy Arias, Teddy Esposito, Yannah Jones, James Kim, Alicia Benis, Hannah Mirando, Myra Arshad, Camila Mattiauda, and Gianna Gregorio — worked long hours on their pieces, their teachers said.
Riverhead Building Supply donated the 8 feet by 42 inches sheets of plywood and CCOM donated materials to hang the murals.
The work features sunsets and beach scenes. One has a Van Gogh feel, another a Lichtenstein flair. The art will be on display indefinitely.
One of the artists, Hannah Mirando, 12, said she hopes the art transforms the recycling center from "utilitarian" to "vibrant."
Yannah Jones, 13, said, "It was a great opportunity to have our work displayed."
Both girls said they hope other recycling centers follow suit.
"I love it," Roger Cromley, a sanitation worker, said. "I think it's the best thing to happen to Montauk."
Brigid Collins, the assistant principal, said the students did outstanding work. "It's a nice community collaboration," she said. "It's nice that the students are so proud, too."
Salzman said the art has been covered with polyurethane and should withstand the elements, though he and students will give the work touch-ups if need be.
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