June 4, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
A mural paying tribute to famed Forest Hills resident Helen Keller will be painted and put on display next week near where the blind and deaf activist and author once lived.
Street artists Crisp and Praxis will start working on the mural on June 11 at the Reform Temple of Forest Hills, located at 71-11 112th St. The location, formerly known as 93 Seminole Avenue, is where Keller previously lived in a brick-gabled and limestone seven-room house that she nicknamed “our castle on the marsh.”
The mural will feature Keller’s face, her dogs and her now-demolished Forest Hills home. At the center of the mural will be her famous quote: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
The artists are inviting the public to join them and watch the mural being painted for the final two days of the three-day project, on June 12 and 13. Those who attend will also have a chance to see the unveiling of the plaque that will accompany the mural. The plaque will feature pictures of Keller in her Forest Hills home, some of her hand-written notes and a history of her accomplishments.
The 48 x 4 foot mural will be painted on preservation-friendly panels, which will then be transported on June 14 to their final installation place on the west wall of the Ascan Avenue LIRR underpass. The installation is expected to begin at 9 a.m. and will take four to five hours.
The project is the brainchild of local historian Michael Perlman, who has been working behind the scenes to bring the mural to Forest Hills for the past year. He was able to secure $6,500 in city funding, as well as funding from local residents and organizations to go toward the project.
Keller spent 21 years of her life in Forest Hills. She moved to the area with her teacher Anne Sullivan in 1917 and lived in the neighborhood at 93 Seminole Ave. until 1938. The house later burned down after Keller had moved off the property.
Those interested in attending one of the mural painting events will need to RSVP to [email protected] and specify which date and time—June 12 at 3 p.m. or June 13 at 11 a.m.—they would want to attend.