Americans for the Arts selected The Tree Inside Me by artist Sandy Litchfield as one of 50 outstanding public arts projects created in 2018 through the Public Art Network Year in Review program, the only national program that specifically recognizes the most compelling public art.
Ms. Litchfield was commissioned by the New York City School Construction Authority’s (SCA), Public Art for Public Schools to create a permanent, site-specific installation for the lobby inside the new addition at PS 14, the Senator John D. Calandra School in Bronx.
Chosen by public art experts, the roster of selected projects was unveiled at Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in Minneapolis. This is the 18th year that Americans for the Arts has recognized public art works.
…Silently the birdsRainer Maria Rilke, 1914
Fly through us. O, I who long to grow,
I look outside myself, and a tree inside me grows.
The Tree Inside Me is a mural made up of mosaic tile, hand-painted acrylic panels and acrylic painted onto the wall. The title is taken from the Rilke poem quoted above. The mural depicts trees, leaves, birds, butterflies and flower in vibrant harmony with various buildings and structures. Following the building’s theme of the seasons, the artwork moves upward from cool winter tones to the warmer colors of spring, summer and fall, drawing attention to the school as a year round shelter for children to learn and grow.
“I feel incredibly grateful to the SCA for providing me with the opportunity to bring this work to PS 14 where I hope the children, faculty and staff can enjoy it for years to come,” Litchfield said. “New York sets an extraordinary model that I hope other school districts in other states will follow. Children deserve to have meaningful and inspiring artwork around them.”
“We are thrilled for Sandy and everyone at PS 14. The Tree Inside Me is a beautiful and inspiring artwork,” said Tania Duvergne, Director of SCA’s Public Art for Public Schools. “It stands out as an exceptionally successful site-specific artwork in our collection. With its composition, unique materials, and gorgeous, eye-catching glass mosaic by Franz Mayer-ofMunich, the mural brilliantly addressed the challenges of a school context and child viewers, as well as the architectural formalities of the space. It is colorful, inviting and fun – a great piece for all to enjoy.”
“Sandy did an amazing job and our public art display has become the focal point and the centerpiece of our new school,” Principal Ira Shulman said. “This artwork is emblematic of our commitment to art programs that are vitally important to the students’ learning experience. Art has the potential to help improve a student’s memory and concentration skills as well as develop decision-making and critical thinking skills.”
“The best of public art can challenge, delight, educate, and illuminate. Most of all, public art creates a sense of civic vitality in the cities, towns, and communities we inhabit and visit,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “As these Public Art
Network Year in Review selections illustrate, public art has the power to enhance our lives on a scale that little else can. I congratulate the artists and commissioning groups for these community treasures, and I look forward to honoring more great works in the years to come.”
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, DC, and New York, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all
forms of the arts. Additional information is available here.
Public Art for Public Schools (PAPS), a unit within the New York City School Construction Authority, is the only public art program dedicated to schools in the country. Established in 1989, the program commissions site-specific projects for new school buildings and oversees the maintenance and preservation of nearly 2,000 existing artworks in the New York City Department of Education’s collection throughout the five boroughs. Our goal is provide schools with artworks that visually enhance the learning environment, serve as unique and exciting resources for teaching, and most of all, inspire students.
For additional information on the Public Art for Public Schools collection, please visit here.
About Sandy Litchfield
Born in New York City, Sandy Litchfield now lives in Amherst, Massachusetts where she is an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts’ Department of Architecture. She received her BFA from the University of Colorado in Boulder and her MFA from UMass Amherst. In 2007 she attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her work has been recognized with grants and commissions from the Public Art for Public Schools, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Puffin Foundation. Litchfield has exhibited in numerous museums including the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, The Fitchburg Art Museum, The Portland Art Museum and The Hunterdon Museum. She has had solo exhibitions in Boston and Brooklyn. Her work has been selected for review by The Brooklyn Rail, The Boston Phoenix, New American Paintings and The Boston Globe.
To learn more about Sandy and her work, please visit here.
The School Construction Authority’s (SCA) mission is to design and construct safe, attractive and environmentally sound public schools for children throughout the many communities of New York City.
We are dedicated to building and modernizing schools in a responsible, cost-effective manner while achieving the highest standards of excellence in safety, quality and integrity.
Established by the New York State Legislature in December 1988, the SCA has provided over 265,000 new school seats, not including Temporary Classroom Units (TCUs), to New York City students, opened the nation’s largest free Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) network providing almost 8,800 seats under the Mayor’s UPK initiative and protected, repaired and upgraded over 1,800 schools in over 1,400 school buildings with over 12,500 capital improvement projects.