Paradise Lost & Found: Bushwick is a snapshot of this section of Brooklyn during the tumultuous 1980s and early 1990s. Carrying a point-and-shoot camera to her job as an art teacher at IS 291 – Roland Hayes, Meryl Meisler’s images—kept secret for decades—are a personal memoir. Upon her retirement from teaching, she began releasing them into the world.
Meisler felt strongly that the photographs be installed at IS 291, the nucleus of her depictions of real children and adults on the surrounding streets, in classrooms, or the schoolyard. IS 291’s Principal Janice E. Bruce co-curated the work from Meisler’s monographs, “A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick” (Bizarre 2014) and “New York PARADISE LOST Bushwick Era Disco” (Parallel Picture Press 2021). The images selected capture the school’s core values and slogan, “Juntos Se Puede.”
Now, four decades since the photos were taken, Paradise Lost & Found: Bushwick celebrates the beautiful, beating heart of the people and places of this resilient community. For lovers of the visual and performing arts, fashion, literature, and creative thinking, this installation asks the viewer to reflect on Bushwick’s past, present, and future.