Bushwick Students Parade Through City Streets in Public Art Exhibit

By Meredith Hoffman | March 30, 2012 2:03pm 

BUSHWICK— What do you think of when you hear word "fragile?"

That's the question that artist Jenny Marketou has posed to students in Belgrade, Serbia, and in Venice at the 2010 Architecture Biennial.

Now she has asked the same question of Bushwick kids — and students in all three cities have then decorated paper dresses with their answers and then paraded through the streets.

Marketou, who conducted "Fragile" workshops the past week with local kids from the elementary P.S. 123 and the Bushwick Academy high school, is now displaying her students' creations on hangers in the Bogart Salon, in her closing reception this Friday evening. A video of the kids' process and procession around the block will accompany the show right off the Morgan L train stop.

Words the students wrote on the rainbow garments included "beauty," "dreams," "psyche," "our Earth," and "happiness."

"They first said ‘I feel kind of awkward and silly’ and then they let go and became silly," said Jodi Connelly of the nine 4th and 5th grade students she brought from P.S. 123 to the workshop. The students were paired with the project through the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services after school program at P.S. 123, for which Connelly works.

"These kids are 9, 10, 11 so their sense of self consciousness is more heightened than mine," said Connelly, who also made and paraded in a dress, "but I had a similar kind of experience I felt kind of ridiculous at first."

The dresses, which ripped in places as the children walked around the community,  were meant to make students physically feel aware of fragility, said Marketou.

As they walked around Bushwick, the dresses tore, and after the processions Marketou has taped up the pieces but said the rips are part of the art.

"It was giving another point of view, of what art can be," she said. "Art has to have some kind of meaning and openness, so people can become authors."

The "Fragile" reception will be at the Bogart Salon Friday evening from 6 p.m. until 9 pm.