Sept. 7, 2023 By Bill Parry
The Long Island City Partnership recently unveiled its latest public art project at the PS4 Skillman School which serves children on the autism spectrum and with other special needs.
Created by artist Lina Montoya, “Las Estrellas Briallarán” is a mural composed of 15,000 tiles zip-tied to the school’s outer fence to depict an enchanting cityscape.
Scores of volunteers from JetBlue, Tishman Speyer, LaGuardia Community College and the LIC community at large came together throughout July and August to help assemble the project. Nearby Boyce Technologies, which manufactures and designs communication and security equipment for the transit market, fabricated all of the tiles at no cost and some of the tiles were recycled from previous installations to create a more environmentally friendly project.
The LIC Partnership picked the school to inspire the students and the project furthers its mission to enliven, beautify and add color to the industrial areas of the community, especially as more people frequent all areas of the neighborhood.
“Public art projects contribute to a vibrant streetscape, help combat quality of life issues, and prove to the neighborhood that people care about it,” Long Island City Partnership President Laura Rothrock said. “LIC Partnership and the LIC BID works to further these goals every day and hopes to continue this momentum through our work to expand the Business Improvement District, which would bring supplemental on-street sanitation, beautification and marketing efforts to additional parts of our great neighborhood.”
“Las Estrellas Briallarán” is the latest mural brought to the community by Long Island City Partnership, which is increasingly working with developers and other partners to use murals to beautify construction walls and fences, which have proliferated as the community undergoes a construction boom. Montoya is a prolific visual artist, graphic designer, muralist and arts educator, from Medellín, Colombia, based in NYC since 2010.
Over the past decade has developed more than 70 community-based visual public art programs, including artistic residencies at NYC schools, private commissions, collaborations with other artists, city agencies, and community-based organizations.
“This was a big effort, with a lot of hands,” Montoya said. “We can see how art can transform a neighborhood.”
The PS4 school is located along an important thoroughfare and motorist corridor (at the intersection of Skillman Avenue and 49th Avenue), where Long Island City’s industrial and lively commercial district meet. The project helps to enliven an area previously underdeveloped, and showcases how schools, BIDs and companies can come together to create a more harmonious, attractive community.
“When we moved into the space 15 years ago there was just the Altice building, but things have drastically changed – from the [addition of] trees to the developing neighborhood,” PS4 Skillman Assistant Principal Stephen Reese said. “We are grateful for the installation of the artwork here and thank everyone involved.”