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In the thick of intellectual rigor

ART YARD was in the thick of intellectual rigor this week!

I was one of four panelists, gathered together by Artist/Educator Robin Holder for Kentler Connects an ongoing series of panel discussions hosted at our home base Kentler International Drawing Space in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

The topic of conversation: “Curiosity: What is it?”

In preparing for the discussion I looked up curiosity and that brought me to the topic of wonder.



1. a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.


1. desire or be curious to know something.

If I can be frank, I think this is at the very heart of what we do as artists! As well as what we do as educators. I hope what we do as salient beings.

In her role as moderator, Robin asked me about my Magical Things From My Mother’s House (on view at Kentler earlier this year in my exhibition A Portrait of My Mother.) I was a bit caught off guard as those Magical Things are rather UNcurious to me.

However, I had thought about the topic of curiosity in preparation and printed out the first stanza of Poet Laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem, one of the most moving and pertinent, in one of my mother’s books A Coney Island of The Mind.... (as well trained by my father, I graced the audience with a dramatic reading...)


I am waiting for my case to come up

and I am waiting

for a rebirth of wonder

and I am waiting for someone

to really discover America

and wail

and I am waiting

for the discovery

of a new symbolic western frontier

and I am waiting

for the American Eagle

to really spread its wings

and straighten up and fly right

and I am waiting

for the Age of Anxiety

to drop dead

and I am waiting

for the war to be fought

which will make the world safe

for anarchy

and I am waiting

for the final withering away

of all governments

and I am perpetually awaiting

a rebirth of wonder

~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Meridith McNeal, "Magical Things From My Mother's House A Coney Island of the Mind", 2018, watercolor on paper, 12x12"


Our Gallery In The School program is much more than classroom lessons, especially when it's time to install an exhibition. At PS 6 in Jersey City this week, Dennis made docent selections, organized works to exhibit and mapped out possibilities for installation. In the gallery, Teaching Artist Quentin Williamston took on the task of prepping it and giving it an overall face lift. He took down the existing show, removed every staple, tack, Velcro dot and T-pin and spackled and sanded every tiny hole - then painted with a fresh coat of white paint.

It's a 2 day process because we use the gallery as a classroom and the 'restorations' need to be done during off hours.

Meanwhile, art making was in full force, with some projects continuing and others just beginning - yet all completed!

Teaching Artist Fatima Traore and Dennis worked closely with 5th-grade students to finalize their Delft pottery style plates depicting scenes of Jersey City - with the very final step being the erasing of visible pencil marks. Using proper erasers (not those at the tops of their pencils), students carefully removed their original drawings leaving only the pen strokes. Additionally, they SLOWLY cut their plates into quite perfect circles. Students discussed their challenges during the critique and how they overcame them.

Fatima and Dennis also guided 4th-grade students through the completion of their vintage jewelry pieces, applying even more gold, silver and bronze with metallic markers and highlights with white pencil and gel pens.

Dennis told our 3rd-grade class the story of Principal Jotham W. Wakeman and his love for carnations. In Principal Wakeman's honor, Fatima demonstrated ways to recognize the shapes needed to draw a flower and various watercolor painting techniques required to create lovely paintings of carnations. All agreed these would make Principal Wakeman very happy.

Teaching Artist Golnar Adili's 1st graders finished their 'Inside/Out' project by attaching their paintings and drawings to their folded boxes. Using globs of white glue (neatly administered by Golnar and their teacher, Miss Valenti), the students spread (well, actually, schmeared) glue carefully to cover the entire paper and then wrapped/attached their works to the boxes. Students left happy and fulfilled - and buzzing with excitement about their works soon to be on exhibit.

Back in the gallery, Quentin and students created a title banner for the exhibit using a type of engraver's font and painted with a limited palette to give the banner a vintage feel.

Note: Golnar's project Fragile Resilience: Exploring Identity Through Books, Boxes and the Accordion is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).

Fridays at PS 6 can be quite like a 5-ring circus, with artmaking happening in various locations throughout the school.


Tomorrow will be a big day!!

ART YARD Teaching Artist Claudia Alvarez is a keynote speaker ( You just MIGHT be able to get a last minute ticket!)

Followed by the Kentler Benefit. While I am pretty sure there are no tickets left, you can still bid on my painting Inside/Outside Miss Fortune (American Pie) through this link. 100% of the proceeds go to ART YARD programming at Kentler!!! BID - BID - BID. It’s a great deal and a great cause.

Thank you for your role in ART YARD BKLYN!

and I am perpetually awaiting

a rebirth of wonder

(that was my emphasis with the bold font above.)

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