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Leaping past Saturn

After the winter break we are excited to jump back into ART YARD Art Matters at The East New York High School of Arts and Civics! Managing Director Dennis Buonagura and Teaching Artist Fatima Traore were back to finish up the first cycle.

Fatima shares: “Exploring animal combinations or “meet cutes” with the students at Arts and Civics has unlocked a new level of thinking out of the box. As we are moving into our second pieces where the students morph two animals together, I’m noticing the students being intentional about their painting techniques as they create elaborate new story lines. Interestingly the animals chosen seem linked to the personality’s and temperaments of each artist. It’s starting to feel like we are intrinsically visualizing our spirit animals.”

ART YARD Artist Fatima Traore

Art & Civics student painting "Meet Cute"

Dennis summarizes: “At the beginning of Thursday’s class, we jumped right into a well-participated round of critique, after viewing all works from the previous lesson. Everyone was quite eloquent, thoughtful, and observant. When Teaching Artist Fatima Traore, the school’s art teacher Miss M, and I offered compliments and suggestions, the students took our advice in a mature manner and went forward with our ideas or made their own decisions - which was our goal.

Art & Civics student painting in action and "Meet Cute" completed piece.

Art & Civics student painting "Meet Cute"

Fatima at work on her own "Meet Cute"

Many students forged ahead to complete their pieces, and those who did moved onto the next level of Fatima’s lesson plan - which was to create a hybrid of 2 unlikely “mates”. Fatima’s example fascinated all - her elephant was covered in snake skin. A very joyful piece by a student who completed both segments of the lesson showed a silhouette of a dolphin with butterfly wings leaping past Saturn. It received many compliments.

Art & Civics student painting "Meet Cute"

Art & Civics student painting "Meet Cute"

We realized that the components of our critique all begin with the letter C - Critique, Compare, Contrast, Compliments - as do the components of the school’s motto - Commit, Create, Communicate, Collaborate.

Arts & Civics Motto poster

Critique in action. Photo by Fatima Traore.

Principal Little stopped in, as always (everyone knows that I LOVE when our class has a visit from the principal) and remarked on how each student has his/her own unique style. She is absolutely right.”


ART YARD Advanced Studio on zoom will resume next week. We will kick off 2023 with Ideographic Mandalas a session taught by ART YARD Artist Ajani Russell inspired by the work of Tau Lewis. Email reminder will go out on Sunday.

Ajani with work by Tau Lewis


In other Art News

My painting Rik, Your Ears Look Great! created in Fatima’s Advanced Studio session about personal hygiene, generated a flurry of interest. So much so, that I have created a limited edition print on archival watercolor paper. The image is 12x12”, the paper size 14x14” and is available for purchase.

Meridith McNeal, Rik, Your Ears Look Great!, 2022

Rik approves:

Rik approves of his likness in print.


Congratulations to ART YARD Artist Rachel Rath and her husband Rich Payackapan who, looking like works of art themselves, are pictured in their traditional Thai Buddhist wedding ceremony last week in Hua Hin, Thailand.

Rich Payackapan and Rachel Rath



Kudos to ART YARD Artist Jacob Rath for having his sketchbook on the ready!

Jacob Rath drawing in Thailand


Happy New Year!


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