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Moments of discovery

Updated: Mar 8

Managing Director Dennis Buonagura, with interns Evelyn and Gabriella have done a remarkable job today with 3rd and 5th graders participating in the current cycle of ART YARD Art Matters at PS 6!!

Dennis reports: "At PS 6, our partnership school in Jersey City, students completed their Shepard Fairey inspired drawings and began to paint.

Gabriela demonstrated painting techniques while I explained the color options (different for each class).  Evelyn O. managed paint, brush, water, and paper towel distribution and clean up (and there was a LOT to clean up!).

Class at work painting

Many students made gigantic progress and gave their works an abstract look and others made valiant attempts  (with success) to create the colors they really wanted by using the colors they were given.  

We also demonstrated painting the lettering, which will be tightened up next week.

Dennis concludes: "I think Shepard Fairey would really like these works."


This week Ajani Russell taught an ART YARD Advanced Studio zoom session titled Sentimental Symbolism on the life and works of Palestinian Artist Salim Monsour. Monsour is a painter born in Birzeit, Palestine. The motifs in his paintings symbolizing Palestinian identity, such as the traditional Palestinian clothes on his subjects, orange and olive trees, the landscape itself, have become works that both affirms and document his culture while living under occupation. His practice has become a form of resistance.

Ajani presents work by Salim Monsour

Ajani shares: “The artists website explains: “Sliman Mansour’s art deftly reflects the hopes and realities of a people living under occupation for the better part of a century. Since the early 1970s, he has translated his experiences of isolation, displacement, community, and rootedness using imagery and symbols that have contributed to the development of an iconography of the Palestinian struggle. Paintings such as “Jamal al-Mahamel” (Camel of Hardships or Camel of Burdens) — with its iconic porter whose heavy and precious load is the Jerusalem that all Palestinians yearn for — were made into posters, cards, and stickers. Such images were popularized in direct defiance of Israeli military authorities, who frequently confiscated artwork and posters and closed exhibitions and galleries. It is also known that during the first Intifada against Israeli occupation in 1987 that many artists who were a part of an art movement called ‘New Vision’, including Monsieur, boycotted Israeli supplies. He used local materials like mud and henna in his work directly placing bits of his lands natural resources into each piece thus preserving it.” 


I asked participating artists to create a portrait representing where they were from, a place they call home, the one that they felt the most connected to. 


Maraya’s collage beautifully captured the moody and harsh tone of a Coney Island winter. The harsh edges and layers that obscure different components of the images reflect how much is hiding in the bitter cold.

Maraya Lopez, Sentimental Symbolism

“Maraya’s stark perspective and black and white handling, reminded me (Meridith) of the vintage poster for the film The Last Picture Show! I had forgotten that the film is set in Texas, the state from which Maraya hails.”


Karla’s piece included text and a plant motif  which created a juxtaposition of the natural world and the city- soft, curved forms on top of a grid. The font of the text bridging the gap between the straight lines of the blocks and the vines.

Karla Prickett, Sentimental Symbolism


Eugenie painted a bridge from a very engaging perspective, creating a wonderful composition with a tree and a lighthouse. 

Eugenie Choa, Sentimental Symbolism

Eugenie adds: “Having moved to the US at a young age from Taiwan, Ajani’s lesson about culture and heritage helped me think about where I truly find solace and identify myself with, and that’s New York. Bridges and waters connect us together, no matter where we are. The Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge is a place where I get in touch with myself and with the world.”


The range of different works representing New York alone were familiar and each one respectively provoked specific emotions.”


Ed’s collage of an emotive Weeping Willow is set in his home state of Minnesota.

Ed Rath, Sentimental Symbolism


Meridith makes her bed with a duvet depicting an abstracted and simplified version of the Brooklyn section of the NYC Subway map.

Meridith McNeal, Sentimental Symbolism

 Ajani’s piece illustrates the beach in Puerto Rico where she grew up spending time with their grandmother.

Ajani Russell, Sentimental Symbolism


This week was the third and final ART YARD Advanced Studio in person session exploring the grid with Mildred Beltré.

Mildred presents the her third Advanced Studio session exploring the grid

Sigrid describes the session: “Inspired by the work of Golnar Adili, Miguel Arzabe, and Hilary Lorenz we created woven artworks using found images. Collaging, pasting and literally weaving together different images to create a new image that references both its sources. 

Golnar Adili, The King-Seat of My Eye is the Place of Repose for the Thought of You, 2010

Miguel Arzabe, Large paper weaving of de Young posters, 2016

Hilary Lorenz, Even Mountains Have Strings, 2023

In the process we found accidental convergences, or moments of discovery in combining preexisting images. The method of weaving paper allows for much exploration of arrangement and form, which we found to be exciting although a bit challenging.


Mildred quipped that the concentration in or studio was made evident by listening to the overall quiet punctuated by not a few sighs and the occational muttering to our selves.

Molly Willis, Woven Grid

Liv Collins, Woven Grid

Jules Lorenzo, Woven Grid

Ed Rath, Woven Grid

Sigrid Dolan, Woven Grid

Chloe Kaas, Woven Grid

Meridith McNeal, Woven Grid

Mildred Beltré, Woven Grid

Liv, who joined us for the first time this session, had us all a flutter with her comparison of Mildred's collage to Gustave Klimt's portrait of Judith! We noticed the composition and feel. Then Ed Pointed out that Klimt's use of gold leaf does indeed make a variation in surface not dissimilar to the varied mat to gloss surfaces of our collage materials!

Critique in action


Other Art News

ART YARD Artist Marie Roberts attended the opening of SVA art therapy exhibition to see the work of ART YARD Artist Sarah Gumgumji.  Marie writes: “I went to Sarah's opening last night - nice show. And Sarah's piece is smart and thoughtful. Sarah explains further: “This piece is inspired by my experience working with individuals of all ages during my internship, my art serves as a visual exploration of the gradual building of trust between the art therapist and the clients. The order of viewing the hearts starts from right to left.” The exhibition is on view at 141 West 21st Street, 1st Floor through March 11, 2024.

Sarah and Marie at the opening


ART YARD Artist Fatima Traore presented a workshop for artists of all ages tonight in her exhibition Vivid Lives at Rio III Gallery:

Fatima and her mother, photo by Maraya Lopez; workshop photos by Yessica Lopez-Gomez


ART YARD Artist Vee Tineo summarizes our openings on Wednesday evening:


"Meridith McNeal’s solo exhibition Things That Happen is exhilarating! These huge and small watercolor paintings capture the essence of our surroundings, illuminate our world and the objects we choose to surround ourselves with. The Salon Gallery at Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling is a perfect space in which to enjoy contemporary art. Vast but welcoming, the scale of the gallery insures that there is enough room to install work with a breath between each piece. Viewers can truly appreciate Meridith’s technique and the scale of the work. I am particularly a fan of her use of color emphasizing shadows and light and her confusing depiction of space.

Meridith McNeal, Things That Happened, installation views


It was also a treat to revisit ART YARD Artist Golnar Adili's pieces included in Structural Play a group exhibition in the adjacent gallery. Having initially encountered this artwork at the Manhattan Graphics Center and then again on an ART YARD field trip to the Cue Art Center it felt like that wonderful sensation of meeting up with an old friend.

Golnar Adili, installation view in Structural Play

Also on view is Moses Ros's installation Skysoul, a ceiling installation running the length of a long hall. Having met Ros when I assisted him at the Manhattan Graphics Center, it was truly remarkable to see his work installed in this beautiful museum space.

Moses Ros, Skysoul. Photos by Timothy Lee

It was a privilege to witness such a range of incredible artwork and reconnect with so many of the ART YARD community who showed up for the event!”


Here's to another art-filled and inspiring week!


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