Snap a Picture: Students take an insiders’ look at creative reuse

A student snaps a picture of Carla Torres' mural installation, created with Carolina Peñafiel in M.F.T.A. Gallery

While any DOE teacher can register to visit MFTA for supplies, all DOE students can get a unique glimpse at New York City’s creative reuse center during a group visit program. Led by a teaching artist, each program includes a tour of M.F.T.A. Gallery, a behind-the-scenes look at the warehouse operation and the variety of supplies that artists and teachers creatively reuse to make art, and a session in our studios where students try their hand at creative reuse. We always photograph group visit programs and send teachers back with “bulletin board kits” which contextualize the art projects students bring back to school and introduce MFTA to other students and staff back at school. This post features images from a group of middle school students who visited us last week. In fact, students from the same school are visiting us again today! 

First students look at the variety of supplies that are creatively reused to make art in M.F.T.A. Gallery. This student noted the use of a blender in Jesber Aabille and Georgia Muenster's "Shrine" to creative reuse. Aabille and Muenster are affiliated with MFTA recipient Flux Factory.

After visiting the gallery, students tour the warehouse. Here they meet volunteer groups and our warehouse staff, and learn how materials are reclaimed from the waste stream for creative reuse by artists.

Students tour the warehouse and see the variety of supplies artists and educators creatively reuse to make art (Photo by Bartram Nason/

Students see a snapshot of the 500 tons of supplies that move through MFTA each year and get excited to create their own project in the studio. During the warehouse tour students share their own stories of creative reuse and repurposing: from hand-me-down clothing, to making their own toys from soda cans, all students who visit us seem to have an intuitive understanding of reuse, which is explored and enhanced during the visit program. After the warehouse tour students are primed to try their hand at making art from found objects. They head to the studio where a teaching artist helps them create an art project to take home.

A student works on her found object sculpture during a group visit program. Her sculpture incorporates common household items like a coat hanger and netting from produce packaging.

For me, the studio session is the highlight of the group visit program. MFTA staff lay out a buffet of materials found in the warehouse as well as items we’ve collected from our recycling bins. Students can’t wait to dig in and make a great art project. Here are some of the projects these middle school students created.

More information on group visit programs at MFTA is available here. Visit programs are available at a discounted rate for Title I schools, these programs are generously supported by TD Bank, through the TD Charitable Foundation.

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One Response to Snap a Picture: Students take an insiders’ look at creative reuse

  1. Tamara Kirk says:

    Green is the new black

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