The Dream Team x 5 Pointz Present: Operation Skittles at August Martin High School in Queens

By - Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

This Thursday, June 11th from 5 – 7 pm, August Martin High School in Jamaica, Queens will open its doors to the public to celebrate the visual transformation of their school. Over 150 artists participated in the transformation, curated by 5 pointz MERES and Marie Cecile Flageul. They graciously donated their time and their materials to take part in fulfilling one dream, created by a group of students called THE DREAM TEAM.

The Dream Team created “Operation Skittles” in the fall of 2014 in coordination with their Principal, Gillian Smith, and The Future Project’s Dream Director, Syreeta Gates, with the goal of transforming the perception of their school.  Students were required to work through life lessons in order to make this dream manifest in reality. They rallied up ideas, facilitated student-led discussions and created a survey for fellow students to voice their needs and concerns about the current environment of the  school: what did the students really want the dream project to be? Over 500 students eventually responded to the survey and the most important and reported concern was the appearance of the school, not the outside but the inside. Most students had never gone to 5 pointz but they had seen it on the 7 train and on the news.  Like many, they were upset about the closing, witnessing the landlord’s defacement and lack of respect for art. For them Graffiti is an art form to which they can relate most.

During this 48 hour paint-a-thon, with a haze of fumes, cans rattling and beats playing throughout the hallways, there was a spirit in the school reminiscent of a summer Saturday afternoon at 5pointz. Graff writers were sharing their stories of high school and the irony of being back to paint in the hallways. For some it was a homecoming and karmatic for others. Students were involved in every aspect; managing the day, taking care of the artists with water,  jokes, asking for hashtags but most of all they brought a sense solidarity and pride to a school that was deemed a turnaround school with a 38% graduation rate. Ever since 5 pointz was forced to shutters its walls, there has been a lot of questions and concerns about what is going to happen next and what has happened in The Dream Team took a hold of The Future Project, where the walls look colorful and  brighter then a pack of skittles, especially the purple ones!

Check out the video for interviews with Principal Gillian Smith, Meres, Marie Flaguel, Justin Prince, Cey Adams and Nicholai Khan. 

Photos and video by Salvador Espinoza 

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