Adapted from a statement provided by Aylin Green:

A series of meetings about how to positively activate Trenton with art led to the conception of the Trenton Art Puzzle. Various voices contributing to the conversation often said things like, “We need something to bring people together.” “We need to activate our city spaces in a way that makes people feel safe.” “We need to feel that we are a part of a bigger whole.” “We need to recognize the assets that we have and to celebrate and develop them.”

As artists involved with the Trenton art community, Aylin Green and Bruce Lindsay decided to come up with a project. Bruce was enamored by the shape of Trenton and saw its potential as an icon. And so, the idea of the Trenton Art Puzzle was born.

It took many rounds of proposals to realize it, but finally, the #IamTrenton Foundation and Isles, Inc. came through with grant support. A stipulation was that the project must take place primarily in the Old Trenton Neighborhood, an area that encompasses roughly nine square blocks of the city from Route 1 to Broad Street and Perry Street to East State Street and is designated as a new arts district.

In the Trenton Art Puzzle, each participant gets their own wooden puzzle piece to paint. Is it really theirs, they wonder? Well, yes, they will get to keep it when the project is all said and done. But until then, it belongs to the whole and Aylin and Bruce are its stewards.

Each puzzle piece is a 2-foot square with the outline of Trenton routed out in the middle. On it, the painter can share their connection to the neighborhood. The people, the landmarks, the memories, and the vision. It could be abstract, it could be an actual time and place. Ultimately, what they paint doesn’t matter as much as personal reflection, the act of painting, and being a part of something big.

Aylin’s connection to the Old Trenton Neighborhood stems from the Windows of Soul project by SAGE Coalition. She had been a part of Windows of Soul since its inception on E. Hanover St. by providing large scale reproductions of my original artwork for wheat-pasting on the boarded-up windows. In 2014, the location was several buildings on Stockton St. and my contribution was a detail from a painting she had done of the Peruvian singer Yma Sumac, who had an extraordinary voice that could reach over 4 octaves.

So far during the Trenton Art Puzzle, they have offered 5 painting sessions where the community has painted a total of 150 pieces so far. It looks like they will indeed get very close to our goal of having all 200 of them painted.

Running now until October 26, 2018, the 200 puzzle pieces will be exhibited at the BSB Gallery where everyone is invited to see how their puzzle piece fits into a massive installation that should cover most of the floor. The exhibition of these painted puzzle pieces provides an outlet for the thought and work of each of these community members. It provides the opportunity to come together and be seen as the total sum of their efforts together. During the exhibition of the puzzles, the interior and exterior elements can be mixed in an ongoing evolution. Like a jigsaw puzzle, each individual piece is unique, and together they make up something extraordinary.

BSB Gallery | 143 E. State St., Trenton

To learn more about the Aylin Green or to check out her work, visit her website at www.aylingreen.com.