The L!brary Initiative enlisted the talent of leadingdesigners, architects, illustrators, and photographers in transforming everyschool library within New York City’s vast public school system into inspiringplaces for learning. It is part of a larger effort to improve student literacyrates, especially in some of the poorest neighborhoods.
Alfalfa Studio was invited to design a 7-foot-high,multi-panel mural running along 3 quarters of the library interior at PublicSchool 195–197 in the Bronx. We hoped to achieve twin goals with his mural: torepresent the library as a sanctuary for language and the entire world ofideas; and to give the students a sense of ownership in their library.
We gathered 30 students from Grades 1 through 6 for aworkshop designed to generate content for the mural. We asked the students tohave fun painting their answers to dozens of questions about words. For example,“Imagine that you could eat words. Which one do you think would taste reallygood?” At the end of the workshop, we collected over 1,000 painted words.
The students’ words are prominently displayed into a muralof a child’s universe. Superimposed on silhouettes arranged in thematic groups,the children’s words give voice and attitude to this visual universe, bouncingplayfully from homelife to nature, from foods to media and books, and fromanimals to people and professions.