Newark Students’ ‘Bottle Cap van Gogh’ Has Its Museum Debut

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South Street Elementary School in Newark create eco-friendly rendition of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.

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NEWARK, NJ – Thanks to the creativity of students at South Street Elementary School in Newark, the Newark Museum will be displaying its own eco-friendly rendition of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. The 8 by 12 foot mural will be on view April 13 – June 23, 2013.

"This work represents the success that can be achieved when the people in a community come together to help support their schools. We are so thrilled that the Newark Museum has given us the opportunity to showcase the beautiful mural that was created in Newark's South Street Elementary School,” said Tatiana Benus, one of the teachers who spearheaded the project.

Last year, the school’s teachers taught the students about conservation and being responsible global citizens. Because they considered these lessons so important, they wanted to further solidify the learning by creating a work of art. They decided to recreate van Gogh’s famous painting Starry Night using recycled bottle caps to create a mural-sized artwork.

South Street Elementary School staff, led by Benus and fellow teacher Andrea Arguello, involved the entire community by asking parents, local store owners and other individuals to collect multi-colored bottle caps. More than 5,000 bottle caps were collected.

Once the collecting was complete, the younger students began to sort the bottle caps by color and size. Other students assisted the teachers in painting three large sheets of plywood that were donated by a teacher’s family member. These pieces served as the mural’s foundation. An image of van Gogh’s painting was then projected on to the plywood using an overhead project and students blocked out the areas that needed to be filled with color.    

The assorted bottle caps were attached using a drill and screws donated by a local Home Depot store. Teachers, parents, friends, and students worked after school each day for weeks, and the mural was completed in June 2012.

The South Street School unveiled the completed project at a Gallery Opening. During the creation of the mural the students also learned about the artist Vincent van Gogh. They wrote biographies about his life and created poems about his paintings. Many students also chose to recreate their favorite van Gogh paintings in smaller creations using mixed media. The students’ writing, artwork, and the mural were displayed and celebrated at the opening.

The teachers approached the Newark Museum, hoping that it would be interested in displaying “Bottle Cap van Gogh.” Ted Lind, Deputy Director for Education at the Newark Museum, met with the teachers and arranged for the mural to be displayed in the Museum’s main Program Hall.

“The mural represents how art can engage students in interdisciplinary learning that is relevant to our lives today. But most importantly, it represents the pride and accomplishment the children felt when they were recognized for doing excellent work,” Lind said.

Stay informed about “Bottle Cap van Gogh” by following the Museum on Facebook at or Twitter at

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The Newark Museum is located at 49 Washington Street in the Downtown/Arts District of Newark, New Jersey, just 3 blocks from NJPAC and 10 miles west of New York City. The Museum is open all year round: Wednesdays through Sundays, from Noon – 5:00 p.m. Suggested Museum admission: Adults, $10.00; Children, Seniors and Students with valid I.D., $6.00. Newark Residents and Members are admitted free. The Museum Café is open for lunches Wednesday through Sunday. Convenient parking is available for a fee. The Newark Museum campus, including its collections, facilities, and other resources, is accessible to accommodate the broadest audience possible, including individuals utilizing wheelchairs, with physical impairments, other disabilities, or special needs. For general information, call 973-596-6550 or visit our web site,

Newark Museum, a not-for-profit museum of art, science and education, receives operating support from the City of Newark, the State of New Jersey, the New Jersey Council on the Arts/Department of State — a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey Cultural Trust, the Prudential Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Victoria Foundation, the Wallace Foundation and other corporations, foundations and individuals. Funds for acquisitions and activities other than operations are provided by members and other contributors.

The Newark Museum is just a few steps from the new NJTransit Light Rail Washington Park Station. Direct connection with the Light Rail at the Broad Street Station and through Penn Station makes the Museum a convenient ride from all points in the region.

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Lisa Batitto
Newark Museum
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