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Annual School Lunch Table Display Big on Conversation

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School lunch tables covered with student art were unveiled Tuesday in Union Square as part of a citywide art exhibit that promotes the discussion of social issues. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

The kids from New Venture Academy 219 in the Bronx showed off a table they transformed into a piece of art Tuesday in Union Square.

"It's great because we finally got a chance to speak our mind and now everyone else can see it," said Cynthia Garcia, a student artist.

The lunchroom table art program is run by the non-profit arts education organization known as LEAP, which stands for Learning through an Expanded Arts Program. Students at 10 public schools spent four months working on their unique canvases.

"This was a way to actually have them speak out on issues that they actually feel passionate about in a constructive and creative way," said LEAP Public Art Program Director Alexandra Leff.

The students are guided by a teaching artist as they explore the issues in their communities.

"A lot of times teenagers don't feel like their voices are heard or that people take them seriously but they are thinking about big issues," said Christy Powers, a teaching artist.

"I think it's phenomenal because it gives students a voice. And it's a voice that's not stagnant. You can use it, you can sit on it, people can talk about it and respond to it so it's a living piece of art," said Vera Sims, a literacy coach.

The completed tables will be on display in June at city parks near the students' schools.

"When the people around the city come have lunch, play cards, they are also exploring the issues that the kids are addressing and hopefully these kids are affecting people's lives," Leff said.

The students from New Venture Academy 219 say they have the power improve the world around them.

"It's kind of true. We have to change the world to make it better," said Monica Johnpier, a student artist.

"If we try and change our ways and everything we can actually change the world," said Cesar Martinez, a student artist.

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