Celebrating Students’ Visual Art at NGAM

An update from Development Associate Olivia Harris.

On the afternoon of December 14, Arts For All and NGAM hosted a lunch for first grade and high school students from PS 163 and The Green School, respectively.  This was the kick-off event for the showcase that NGAM hosted throughout December, showing over 20 pieces of art created in two AFA residencies.  The kids loved seeing their work professionally presented, getting Certificates of Achievement, and being celebrated for the afternoon!  In addition to the staff of Arts For All and NGAM, volunteers from Capgemini joined us to serve as the audience.

Hong teaches us how to say "Thank You" in ThaiWe all enjoyed some Pad Thai for lunch, a new treat for many of the kids.  After finishing her first portion, one first grader exclaimed, “This is the best meal I ever had!” – and she immediately went back for seconds.  Chef and owner Hong Thaimee taught all the kids how to say, “Hello” and “Thank you” in Thai, as well as giving a chopsticks lesson.

After lunch, we got a chance to present certificates and to hear from Vidho and some of the students about the art.  Vidho started his workshops at PS 163 and The Green School by inviting students to look at his own art, and ask the questions: Who are we? Where are we? What’s going on?

After brainstorming answers and sharing their responses, the students were invited to sketch and paint their own images about identity.  Grade 1 students at PS 163 painted portraits combining vertical, horizontal and curved lines together.  High School students at The Green School created tableaux expressing fiction or non-fiction stories.

2 pieces at NGAMWhen students got up to receive a Certificate of Achievement, I could see the pride on every single face.  Each student felt special: we were making a big deal about their art, and giving a lot of attention to their achievement.  All the art that the students created was really beautiful and thoughtful – I was impressed with their dedication and focus!  Every piece on the walls caught my eye because of the color, creativity, and the personal stories told on the canvases.

All of us, new volunteers and seasoned AFA staff, had such a wonderful time with the students. Nobody wanted to stay in their seat; kids kept getting up to show a volunteer which painting was theirs, and to talk a little bit about why they made it.  Arts For All gave the schools the framed art work, so that they can continue to showcase it or return it to the students.

But my favorite testament to the success of the event? A few days later, at a fundraising dinner NGAM hosted for Arts For All, one of the high school students came back to the restaurant with her family to show them the piece.  With good reason, too: it’s beautiful.

Alexandra's portrait

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