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Local artist to donate ceramic tile installation to Astoria Heights Park

Photos courtesy of Penelope Eleni

A mother of three is making her way back into the art world by creating an art installation that will bloom at a local Astoria community park.

Penelope Eleni, a sculptor and ceramist from Astoria, is coming together to with the city’s Parks Department and the Friends of Astoria Heights Park to present a temporary installation of ten ceramic tiles at the western Queens park.

The installation, which will be on view through November, will be located at Astoria Heights Park’s Butterfly Garden at 30th Road and 46th Street.

Last year, Eleni won a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts to create a public installation and she has decided to donate it to the group of neighbors that make up Friends of Astoria Heights Park.

She said she wanted to make artwork that was accessible to the community and aimed at children, who would be able to touch and explore the tiles.

“[Friends of Astoria Heights Park ] were so friendly and willing to work for me and they’ve done so many great things for the park and I couldn’t have done it without them,” Eleni said.

Along with helping beautify Astoria Heights Park, this art installation also serves as a way for Eleni to get back into creating art after having to put everything on hold while raising her son and twin daughters.

Eleni is a former professor of art and elementary school art teacher with a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics.

“They gave me a gift to get back into it,” Eleni said. “They gave me permission to become an artist again, it meant more to me at this point of my life than it would have coming out of graduate school.”

The tiles that make up the installation illustrate the story written by Eleni about her visit to Socrates Sculpture Park during the Halloween Harvest Festival. Each tile depicts encounters with men in funny hats, dogs in costume, dancing, and her children playing with other kids.

“The whole piece all around is all about the years I spent sitting on my living room floor changing diapers and taking long strolls through New York with my kids,” Eleni said.

A celebration of Eleni’s installation is expected to take place on May 30 from 11 a.m. to noon at the park’s playground at 30th Road and 46th Street.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/PenelopeEleni.

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