November 15, 2023
In the vibrant art scene of New York City, having a public art piece comes with prestige. We are proud to share that Ms. Carmen Recio (Visual Arts Subject Expert Teacher, PreK-5) has her first artwork on display through The Audubon Mural Project, and it is on display in Washington Heights. Through a unique blend of passion, community engagement, and avian inspiration, Ms. Recio shares her experience with us, the community, and her students.
Initiation of Inspiration
In the fall of 2021, Ms. Recio participated in the Audubon Mural Project’s 5K one-of-a-kind art run that stopped at various murals where runners were met by artists and advocates who shared facts about the murals of painted birds. The inspiration went full circle as Ms. Recio first drew on this experience to do collaborative bird drawings with her grade 4-5 students, which she shared with the organizer of the Audubon Mural Project, Avi Gitler. From there, Gitler offered Ms. Recio the opportunity to paint a mural for the project.
The Artistic Process
Ms. Recio first chose an endangered bird species – the Spruce Grouse – and made preliminary sketches before transferring the design onto Polytab, a canvas-wallpaper hybrid. Days of meticulous painting followed as she used a stepstool to reach the large artwork that had to be mounted on her bedroom wall. Ms. Recio said it was a joyful project and very fun to paint. Once completed, Gitler and his team took charge of installing the masterpiece at its location on 158th St. and Broadway.
Connecting Art to Education
As an educator, Ms. Recio seamlessly integrates her artistic endeavors with her teaching. Her unit on street art empowers students to create large gridded drawings of birds. They vote on a species, measure out a grid, and piece together their drawings as a class. This hands-on approach not only fosters creativity but also imparts valuable lessons about collaboration and environmental responsibility.
Beyond the classroom, Ms. Recio has integrated real-world experiences into her teaching. Past collaborations with the Wild Bird Fund brought rescued pigeons to the school, creating tangible connections between students and the broader efforts of organizations like Audubon.
Conveying a Message of Awareness
Ms. Recio’s mural features the Spruce Grouse, a symbol of the project’s mission to raise awareness about endangered bird species. Several students and Wildcat community members have ventured to visit her artwork which helps spread a message about the impact of climate change and habitat loss on these creatures.
Through her creation, Ms. Recio hopes to inspire change in simple ways, urging people to reconsider their interactions with wildlife, from choosing appropriate bird feed to taking steps to prevent window collisions during migration season.
Our school is fortunate to have an educator like Ms. Recio who uses her passions to creatively transform art into awareness and inspire her students and the public. Stop by the mural for a photo opp and tag her @art_with_carmen and @basisindependentmanhattan to show your support of our fabulous Wildcat faculty who continue to show their passion inside and outside of the classroom!