The City of New York Board of Education, the School Construction Authority and the Department of Cultural Affairs have commissioned Martha Madigan to create a work of art for the new PS/IS 499 elementary school that is being built in Queens. Titled Oak Seasons, this work of art will be located on the south side of the PS/IS 499 school building. Oak Seasons will be comprised of a three story glass curtain wall incorporating photographic imagery. This imagery will be comprised of two parts. The first is a contemporary “stained glass” technique that will be created through digital imaging, combining images of creatures that will be fired onto the glass panels by means of a new archival “Float Glass” technique. The second part of this mural will be created by means of a sand-blasting photographic imagery onto the glass. Each glass panel consists of two layers of insulated glass. Each of the three stories will be comprised of fourteen panels of glass (two wide by seven panels high), each panel measuring approximately two feet high by six feet in width. Thus the glass curtain wall for each floor will measure approximately fourteen feet high by twelve feet wide. Thus the entire work of art will measure approximately 42 feet high by 12 feet wide.
The theme of Oak Seasons will be the four seasons, i.e., spring, summer fall and winter, incorporating photographic images of oak trees from all four seasons of the year. The winter and spring images of the leaves and trees were made on the same site as the new PS/IS 499 school. These trees were the two mature, cherished oak trees that were removed to allow room for the construction of the PS/IS 499 school building. To create added visual and educational interest, audience interaction from the students has been considered in the creation of this work of art. An element of surprise, i.e., images of whimsical creatures created by means of photograms of leaves and foliage, will be enlarged and interspersed throughout the images of oak trees. The mural will be a timeless tribute to the biodiversity indigenous to the region, a celebration of the seasons, and a reverent homage to nature as the foundation of human life.