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PES art exhibit spotlights collaboration between generations

Six-year-old J'siah and Plymouth Regional High School sophomore Ruby Lonergan stood by the portraits they made of each other as part an art project for high school and kindergarten students. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2019
PLYMOUTH On Monday, June 10, Plymouth Elementary School was proud to unveil an exhibit of artwork done through a collaboration between kindergarteners and high school students, featuring portraits of the young boys and girls done by the older art students, as well as portraits of them drawn by their new buddies at PES. Among those in attendance for the exhibit that day were the kindergarteners, their families and many of the 70 art, graphics and photography students from the high school.

Plymouth Regional High School art teachers Mary Boyle and Lynn Sanborn were the masterminds of the project, and said it's definitely been a win-win situation for all who were involved.

It all began in late March when the elementary school students made a trip to PRHS. There Boyle and Sanborn's students in Painting, Art, Advanced Art, and Advanced Graphic Design classes were paired up with a young partner to have some fun as they got to know each other. The boys and girls were asked numerous questions about things such as their hobbies, favorite colors, favorite animals, even what super heroes they like. Then, to help the high school students create portraits of them, they were each photographed so their artist would have a physical reference to go by.

Meanwhile, back at PES, the youngsters each had a photo of their new friend, too. They put a lot of effort into drawing pictures of them and on June 10th, the portraits and photos were paired up for the exhibit.

"This was so awesome. It was really good relationships for them to make," said teacher Kim King.

While King said the students in her class were excited to work with the older high school students, the same could be said in reverse. Sophomore Ruby Lonergan was paired with six-year-old J'siah and at the unveiling of the exhibit she said the experience was "absolutely amazing."

"I had so much fun with him. It was cool to dive back into childhood again," she said.

Her portrait of J'siah was done in acrylic and she even worked the game Minecraft into a pattern on his shirt. As for J'siah's portrait of her, "I love it. He even had my hair over my shoulder like I usually wear it. He's definitely an aspiring artist," said Lonergan.

McKenzie Harrington-Bacote is J'siah's mom and the art exhibit finally answered some questions for her.

"He's been running around drawing pictures of people lately but we didn't knew why. He never told us about doing portraits at school," she said.

Dad Ben said, "I love it. This is really, really good. I think it's a cool way to bring the community together, and the kindergarteners also get to see all the possibilities of things they can do with art."

Brian Peck also loved the project and seeing the portrait of his daughter Iris that day. Her art buddy for the project was senior Aubrey Kim and both Peck and Iris were excited that she had included a giraffe in the background.

"I like giraffes a lot," Iris explained.

Other fun additions included in the portraits were sharks, a football stadium, helicopters and even some math problems for one student who is passionate about numbers. Super heroes like Spiderman appeared in some while one portrait actually showed a kindergartener dressed as a super hero himself. One young girl had some fun cat ears added in her portrait, while hearts and musical notes surrounded another smiling face. All were bits and pieces of the children's interests and personalities as gleaned by the art students through their interviews.

PES Principal Julie Flynn was very pleased to have the two groups together like that once again this year and praised Boyle and Sanbornton for developing the idea.

"They've done this with senior citizens in the past, and now this is the second year they've worked with the kindergartners here. I think the whole concept of getting people to cross generations through art is wonderful," she said.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
Parker Village
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