Second Mural Installed at Queens Metropolitan Campus
With over 1 million immigrant residents, Queens, New York is the most diverse county in the United States and possibly the most diverse place on Earth. For her second painting at the Queens Metropolitan Campus, a new public high school in Forest Hills, Paula Scher has created a mural of the area in 20 languages—from Spanish, Polish and Russian to Korean, Hebrew and Hindi—that are spoken by Queens residents.
The mural is the second of a pair that fill two solariums at the campus, which includes Queens Metropolitan High School and the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School. Both murals were commissioned by the NYC Department of Education and the NYC School Construction Authority Public Art for Public Schools program, in collaboration with the Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program. Like the first mural, the new installation combines Scher’s twin loves of map painting and environmental design to create a vibrant, sprawling landscape of names, languages and typography.
The new mural is located in a solarium identical to the one that contains the first painting, which was installed in September. The first mural depicted the entire New York City metropolitan area; the new painting follows Metropolitan Avenue (the school is at 91-30 Metropolitan Ave.) as it traverses Queens and its many different neighborhoods. Scher used Google to translate the names of locations in the painting, resulting in a series of translations—Greenpoint as Grunpunkt and Punte Verde, for example—that in some cases are not strictly accurate. (The city gave Scher a pass on accuracy because the mural is a work of art.) As in the first mural, the inaccuracies echo the learning process—here in languages that the students may themselves speak or encounter every day.
The finished mural covers 2,430 square feet and was completed by painter Michael Imlay, who projected Scher’s painting on a series of panels and repainted the image in acrylic, recreating the texture of the original artwork. (More about the process here.)
Project Team: Paula Scher, partner-in-charge and designer; Drew Freeman, associate and designer. Photographs by Ian Roberts.