By Marion Filler
It’s safe to say that the mural to be unveiled this Friday at the entrance to the Early Street Community Garden is like nothing you’ve seen before.
Artist Monique Sarfity of Jersey City uses plastic gift cards as a medium to replace traditional materials for weather-proof outdoor art.
“I’m always looking for recycled materials, things that I can use that are free, readily available, and also help the environment,” says Sarfity, who teaches art in Jersey City public schools.
“And I’m always thinking about gift cards,” she adds, “because people use them all the time now. They’re all over the place and as soon as you use them, they just get thrown out.”
After earning a degree in fine arts and art education, she traveled to Ravenna, Italy, on a Geraldine R. Dodge Artist Fellowship. The exposure to magnificent Italian mosaics redirected her focus.
Since then, she has been experimenting in all things mosaic, from fine art to functional installations.
“My most recent pieces have focused on reclaimed and recycled supplies,” says Sarfity. “I find great satisfaction in transforming unexpected materials –often discarded trash– and giving them new life as a work of art. My goal is to continue explore new mediums and push the boundaries on what materials and genres constitute fine art.”
Video: Eco Art Mosaic for Grow It Green Morristown:
Grow it Green Morristown contacted Sarfity about making an outdoor mural. Because she had used gift cards in other projects, it seemed like a good choice.
The Early Street project was a on a large scale. The finished mural is four feet tall by 16 feet long, and traveled from her Jersey City studio to Grow it Green’s Urban Farm on Hazel Street via Farmer Shaun’s truck.
Sarfity asked local schools for gift cards, and received a wonderful response. “Students, families, and businesses contributed the cards,” she says.
The cards are mounted on greenhouse panels that Sarfity describes as super lightweight and completely waterproof. The cards are glued to the panels using silicon-based outdoor adhesive and then coated with several layers of polyurethane.
According to Sarfity, the mural will remain on Early Street, attached to the fence at the entrance, until severe winter weather requires it to move indoors until spring.
The mosaic artwork joins the Gateway Totems, installed five years ago at the front of the parklet marking the entrance to the community garden.
Like the totems, this art piece was funded partly by Morris Arts, through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.
The unveiling is scheduled for 4:30 pm on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, rain or shine, at 17 Early St. in Morristown. The Artist Baker and SmartWorld Coffee will provide light refreshments.