Art Sprouts Up At a School Construction Site

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Amidst the clanking of construction work and speeding cars, a crowd cheered Thursday as an artist and some students pulled down a thick black drape to reveal a giant photo of a waterfall in front of what will become the High School of Art and Design.

The 12-by-8-foot image, called “Manhattan Falls (Vernal Waterfall in Northern Manhattan),” is part of an installation by Matthew Jensen, an artist who has been turning billboards and construction sites into virtual green spaces. For this exhibition, Mr. Jensen worked with students at the high school, which is relocating from 1075 Second Avenue nearby to the new facility on East 57th Street next fall.

Mr. Jensen was on hand to unveil his new exhibit, along with some students and State Senator Liz Krueger. The students, all seniors, worked with Mr. Jensen during a photography seminar earlier this year to select the images for the exhibit, which is called "Nowhere in Manhattan."

“When I spoke with the students, we talked a lot about curating and how you can create a dialogue or narrative within a pre-existing body of work,'' said Mr. Jensen, 30. "How most work they see in a gallery or museum starts with an idea and ends as art.”

The new school will be shared by the Art and Design school, which has 1,400 students, and P.S. 59, which has 730 students and is now on East 63rd Street.

The seniors who worked with Mr. Jensen will have graduated before the new facility opens next year. They said they appreciated the opportunity to work with him.

“This project means a lot to me, since I’m also really interested in landscapes -- art with sun or pollution that kind of, like, defines nature with beauty,” said Lizbeth Ramirez, 17.

“What is more important than anything is to bring professionals into the classroom,” said Elma Reingold, the school’s assistant principal of art and architecture.