New York, NY – One of America’s most famous poems – and the poet behind the words – will be celebrated on the hundredth anniversary of Joyce Kilmer’s death.  A group of community-based artist known as the Art Force 5 are currently engaging the public in hand-painting 300+ ceramic mosaic tiles while completing a summer residency on Governors Island. The mosaic will be painted throughout the Island’s poetry festival (July 28-30) and completed by July 30, the anniversary of Joyce’s death in combat during World War I. Participation is free and open to all ages.

Alfred “Joyce” Kilmer attended Rutgers College (now University) for two years before transferring to Columbia to complete his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1908. Shortly after graduation, Kilmer began writing book reviews published by the New York Times. In 1912, he became a special writer for the New York Times Review of Books and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Kilmer published his first book of poetry in 1911 with his most famous poem “Trees” first published in Poetry magazine in 1913. Shortly after the United States entered World War I in 1917, Kilmer enlisted in the 7th Regiment of the New York National Guard and eventually was assigned to military intelligence. He was killed during the Second Battle of Marne by a snipers bullet to the head on July 30, 1918.

Founded at Alfred University and funded by SUNY, the Art Force 5 has received national recognition for their efforts to use art to address difficult topics in creative ways. In 2016, the program partnered with the Rochester Police Department to design mosaic-making sessions for officers and youth to discuss relevant city issues. The team has trained over two hundred college students-turned-superheroes but often travels in teams of five, leading projects for the University of Notre Dame, University of Oklahoma, New York ComicCon, Strong National Museum of Play and the New York State Museum in Albany. In 2018, the program partnered with the State University of New York (SUNY) to build a statewide team of heroes from numerous SUNY institutions and build a New York City summer program on Governors Island. A Buffalo-based team is being explored for summer 2019.

Questions about the program may be directed to Director Dan Napolitano at artforce5@alfred.edu and the team’s website may be found at www.artforce5.com.