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How does your garden grow?

Updated: Jun 4, 2022

Our elementary-aged students are blossoming into sophisticated artists! Managing Director Dennis Buonagura reports: "The expert students at PS 6, our partnership school in Jersey City, used the watercolor painting skills learned over the past few weeks to complete their series of paintings inspired by the works of Hilma af Klint.

Hilma af Klint, 1901 or earlier

Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau discussed the artist’s series’ based on life cycles (and other types of cycles) and showed more of her works via smart board. Students were inspired and quite prolific - many completed several pieces.

During critique, students brought their work to the front of the class to explain representations and symbolism, color choices, and many gave their works titles.

Edward The Artist

Abdul’s painting is entitled “Calm” - he feels it could help control violence. He wants anyone who is angry to step back, look at his painting, and breathe. He really might be on to something. I could see his work as a poster throughout the MTA system.

Calm by Abdul

Donna’s beautiful mostly blue abstract is called “Summer”. And - NO - I did not make that up nor am I responsible for her writing on the back of her piece “Donna …Summer”.

Donna Summer

Other titles (that came along with detailed explanations) were “Family Rainbow Ruby” and “The Coming of Happiness”.

Classroom teachers put on recordings of instrumental music (mostly piano) and once students got brushes in their hands, a tin of watercolor paint and a little cup of water - SILENCE! They worked diligently and peacefully. It was as if they ALL took Abdul’s advice.


We started the week in ART YARD Advanced Studio on zoom with Teaching Artist Golnar Adili creating “contour objects” inspired by the work of Anne Muntges and Sol LeWitt.

Anne Muntges, Pilar Detail

Sol LeWitt, Splotch

We came to zoom prepared with glue, water, a wide mouth container, white paper, recycled objects, sharpies and paint eager to know what Golnar had in store for us!

Golnar recaps: “It was a learning experience for some ART YARD Artists who were new to the medium of papier-mâché! This lead to a really interesting back and forth demonstration for the first-timers which we contributed to as we worked. We covered smallish objects with paper, glue and water (another way to make an object all white without gesso or any other fancy colors). This had a few different reasons: to defamiliarize the objects, meditate, and draw or paint on uneven surfaces.

Kevin Anderson, Contour Object in progress

Vera made the most elaborate textured surface with balloons and did an abstract line painting on it which was just amazing.

Vera Tineo, Contour Object

Meridith's little paint tube got so many compliments since it was already an interesting but nondescript object.

Meridith McNeal, Contour Object(s)

There was a charming water bottle by Marilyn painted in different colors and with large strokes which stood out in a wonderful and very simple way. Kevin, who is still on the Papier-mâché part of the lesson, and I recycled the same style water bottle in our work.

Marilyn August, Contour Object

Golnar Adili, Contour Object

As always, Ed's piece which reminded us of a sea creature with a Picasso face was bold and made even stranger with the angle of the photo from above.

Ed Rath, Contour Object

Karla’s work was in progress as class came to a close, however she sent the finished piece later in the week.

Karla Prickett, Contour Objects

Marilyn comments: “Golnar’s lesson was great fun. She has such a lively spirit that encourages creativity.”

This boat, which docks right outside our studio at BWAC, reminds me of this project!


Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau recounts: “At BNS this week, students continued to work industriously on their various projects.

Our collage table (Olivia, Akil, and Nathaly) made great progress. Olivia added more detail to her waterfall, and Akil and Nathaly finished their pieces! The juxtaposition of black and brighter colors in both pieces is quite effective.

Stained Glass Collage by Akil

Stained Glass Collage by Nathaly

Lucas also put a finishing touch on his cosmic collage, naming the depicted observatory LOTUS (Lucas Observatory of The Universe and Space)!

Stained Glass Collage by Lucas

Stained Glass Collage-in-progress by Olivia

In the midst of a very hot afternoon, our other group of students turned to the oasis of Fantastical Treehouses--Paper Sculpture Edition! Students worked at their own pace from different starting points: Lucas dove right into step one, Carson added color to the treehouse drawing that she'd begun in a previous week before beginning the sculpture, and Emma continued the piece she started last week.

Fantastical Treehouse drawing by Carson

Students followed step-by-step instructions to construct their trees; I was impressed when students were able to reverse-engineer the next steps just by looking at the model piece! In between construction steps, students prepared their paper, using colored pencils to evoke the colors and textures of tree bark. Emma began constructing a purple clubhouse to perch on the branches of her tree--we're all excited to see how these pieces will evolve as students customize them.

Fantastical Treehouse sculpture-in-progress by Emma

Students pitched in to clean up at the end of class, gathering glue stick caps and scraps of paper. Before heading out, Lucas paused to tell me how much he likes ART YARD BKLYN!”


Later in the day at for ART YARD Advanced Studio in person at BWAC Teaching Artist Iviva Olenick presented the first of a 2-session series How does your garden grow? in which we will think about our relationship to nature, including remembering natural spaces we’ve visited, perhaps wild ones uncultivated by humans, as well as manicured or cultivated spaces, like gardens and parks.

To start the evening Iviva introduced the landscape design of Mary Reynolds, an Irish designer who works with existing wildlife and land to encourage the growth and abundance of the natural world.

Landscape design by Mary Reynolds

Iviva asked artists to think of an urban spot where they've seen wildlife, and to think of how they could re-design the space to be even more welcoming for wildlife. To begin our work we used drawing, ink and watercolor. Next week, we will continue these drawings and we might also do a plein air painting on one of the piers in Red Hook.

At work and work in progress:

This session was a festive one as we celebrated Gemini Birthdays (at least 6 of us!), and we bid adieu to Alison before her return to Lyon, France. The treats were abundant and delicious. Naya baked beautiful cupcakes decorated with edible flowers, Diana brought a yummy strawberry butter cream birthday cake and I made my now-famous banana bread.

ART YARD Gemini birthday cake

As we closed up the studio for the evening, turning off the lights, we noticed the beauty of the light streaming into the space.

Evening light in our studio at BWAC


Other art news:

I am pleased to have work included in Our Reflection curated by Gita Joshi, an exhibition of works capturing the surreal depiction of the influence of society and its vices on life.


Spotted in Fort Greene – In memory of Greg Tate by Dr. Nettrice R Gaskins.

Greg Tate by Dr. Nettrice R Gaskins

The signage reads: “This artwork celebrates Greg Tate, the preeminent cultural critic – godfather to contemporary Black journalism – author, and musician of our time. We honor his legacy, passion for art, love for community, and his never-ending celebration of Black genius.”


Twin Power Activate!

♊️ 💜💥

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