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To make our artistic voices heard

Updated: Nov 6, 2021


Text on top of detail of Robin Grant’s “My Art Teacher”

Wait, what? Is this legit?! ART YARD Art Therapist Jenn Dodson and I were enjoying an autumn repast of radicchio risotto and roasted squash when, buzzing and flashing, my phone announced text messages and emails that were enticing…. but could it be real??

A few emails, a fabulous phone call later and I can share this missive: “Dear Meridith, I hope this email finds you well. I write to you today to inform you that you have been nominated and selected to receive the RJE Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award…We are so grateful for teachers like you that inspire the next generation of artists. More information about the foundation can be found at”

Woweee Kazowee! I am so grateful to be recognized by the RJE Foundation -- who, just like ART YARD BKLYN, are all about supporting artists and building community.


This week ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom worked with Teaching Artist Susan Hamburger on a session titled Objects of Significance. Participating artists used readily available materials to make a sculpture or artwork of deep personal, spiritual, and intellectual significance with a focus on healing.

Benin Bronze sculpture of a rooster

Newly cast Benin Bronze King and Queen

Robert Lugo, “To Disarm: Angela Davis Mugshot”

Hillerbrand+Magsamen, “Device for Transportation”

Ed Rath exclaims: “Bravo to Susan Hamburger for showing images of the Benin bronzes. These exquisite sculptures were made in what is now Nigeria over eight hundred years ago. It had been thought impossible by the Euro-centrist art world that African culture at that time was sophisticated enough to independently develop bronze casting technology. Likewise, these same colonial imperialists underestimated the depth of Benin spiritual expression.

Compliments to Maraya and Abby for using personal symbols derived from treasured childhood objects to convey a sense of healing.

Maraya Lopez, Objects of Significance, Joe

Abrielle Johnson, Objects of Significance, Amethyst

Compliments to Pat for creating, A Device for Being Heard which incorporates a glass bottle wrapped in ear phones and stuffed with Voting Instructions. Through the use of found objects, Pat's sculpture personifies the "Message in a Bottle" sentiment to make your voice heard through voting. AND - it totally encapsulates Art Yard's very mission: To make our artistic voices heard.

Pat Larash, Objects of Significance, A Device For Being Heard

Karla explains her own piece: “I was very inspired by the relief images in the reference artists’ works. Loved this mask image from The NY Times. My piece references the textures in pattern, directing studio materials toward 3-dimensional composition and creating a relief piece symbolizing the contrasts between serenity and struggle, pain and healing and how these move continually through life’s journey. “

Karla Prickett, Objects of Significance

Karla shares many compliments about the work created in this session:

Ed’s drawings referencing architectural references clearly spoke about the importance and strength in a meaningful space filled with meaningful objects. I especially like the second drawing.

Ed Rath, Objects of Significance: Post and Lintel with Primitive Progress and Basho's Room

I loved Vera’s fish on a plate composition -- the white cloth’s rectangular contrast to the round plate made the entire piece “pop”.

Vera Tineo, Objects of Significance, Fried Fish

Robin’s self-portrait was innovative and creative and so personality and value driven!

Robin Grant, Objects of Significance, Myself as an Artist

Marilyn’s whole piece was a balanced presentation of color and humor. A new contemporary folk art sort of feel!

Marilyn August, Objects of Significance

Pat compliments: “I really like the way Nayarit's piece (both the photo and the video) plays with monochrome, blurring the boundaries between her actual hand, the drawing itself, and the hand made out of crumpled paper. And the paper hand itself is ambiguous--it needs help from the other hand, but also was this the same hand that crumpled it in the first place? There are a lot of layers Nayarit's piece. I keep coming back to it.

Nayarit Tineo, Objects of Significance, Helping Hand

I love Madison's record player! She evokes several different senses--not just sound, but also touch (the warmth of the teacup, the physicality of the vinyl), and also the smell of a comforting cup of tea. And the musical note and the steam from the tea are rising up in harmony.

Madison Mack, Objects of Significance, Music, Tea & The Universe

Compliments to Delphine on the way she combines text and image in these two pieces. I like the way she's got the word "PEACE" in both of them, in bold, aggressive letters--peace requires effort! She subverts my expectations, since I'm used to seeing this style for "bang! wham!" types of words in comics. Delphine's got me thinking about her words--why do we say we *fight* for peace? Maybe our weapons are shaping us more than we realize. Lots to mull over here!

Dephine Levenson, Objects of Significance

My own piece was a cut, molded and painted Swift which referenced a class I taught earlier in the semester inspired by the story Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald.

Meridith McNeal, Objects of Significance, Swift in Flight

Surely some of us are required, by dint of flourishing life and the well-being of us all, to look clearly at the things that are so easily obscured by the everyday. To take time to see the things we need to set our courses toward or against; the things we need to think about to know what we should do next. To trust in careful observation and expertise, in its sharing for the common good. When I read the news and grieve, my mind has more than once turned to vesper flights, to the strength and purpose that can arise from the collaboration of numberless frail and multitudinous souls. – Helen Macdonald, Vesper Flights

Susan Summarizes: "The group worked was then asked to find inspiration in these artists and create an object for healing. Working in a wide range of media, they created 2-D, 3-D and digital work, using paint, pencil, paper, digital pencils, collage and found materials. The subjects addressed included childhood memories, comfort foods, personal talismans and iconic objects. The success was not only in the quality of the work, but in the thoughtful approaches and the depth of thought participants brought to creating their objects for personal healing."


Teaching Artist Candy Heiland‘s cycle of ART YARD Advanced Studio at BWAC continued with the lesson of creating the same image from different sources. Candy explains: “The idea is to compare the ways we work and decide, for ourselves, which process works best for each of us. Two weeks ago, we drew figurines from observation. Last week, we revisited the same image, this time, from photographs.

Abby and Nayarit at work

This week the challenge was to draw the same image from memory. Once again, a joyful conversation ensued. Vera arrived announcing that she had her whole piece planned out, and then executed her piece with ease. Abby found that she was as proficient with the oil pastels she had used as a child, as she has been with her recent love of paints. She vowed to dig them out and play with them again.

Drawings by Vera Tineo, Robin Grant, at work drawing, Meridith McNeal, Candy Heiland and Abbrielle Johnson.

Robin pointed out that Meridith’s drawings had the same style as her watercolors, even though the materials and paper were completely different.”

There is something wonderful happening at our new place. Here, well out on the water’s edge, surrounded by artfully crafted old stone walls, breathing salt-tinged air, walking worn floorboards and through long art filled passages we are finding a place to connect to our deepest selves. Conversation flows with ease as we sip our tea and dive in to our drawings. We watch dusk settle around Lady Liberty from our studio window feeling empowered. THIS is ART YARD Advanced Studio LIVE. Or shall we say ALIVE as our friends at the sideshow would trumpet?!

Lady Liberty from the window at ART YARD Advanced Studio at BWAC

Window view with reflection at ART YARD Advanced Studio at BWAC


ART YARD Art Matters at BNS was off this week for Election Day. However, the grape vine says that ART YARD was the first afterschool option for spring semester to fill to capacity! Word is out!!

Dennis voted!


Other Art News:

This week, for the first time since the pandemic, Dennis went to the Metropolitan Opera and an event at City Center. Thrilled to be back to watching live performances, Dennis reports: “There are 2 spectacular Rasheed Johnson's murals on display on 2 different levels. It is very interesting to me how theatres now are incorporating art in their houses for viewing before and after performances (and during intermissions). City Center with the Keith Haring mural and now the met with Johnson. The only trouble was the lighting - in my opinion - too bright and reflective. It’s also hard to see the work through the throngs taking selfies in front of the art!”

Keith Haring at City Center, NYC

Rasheed Johnson, “Broken Nine” at the Metropolitan Opera, NYC


ART YARD Art Therapist Jenn Dodson and I loved Valerie Hegarty’s solo exhibition of recent art Gone Viral on view at Malin Gallery, 515 West 29th St. NYC, through November 23, 2021. Featuring work from the past three years, the exhibition centers upon a suite of new sculptures inspired by the artist’s personal journal entries from the onset of the Covid epidemic to the present, which she terms The Covid Diaries Series.

Jenn enthuses: “If you haven’t done so already, please make the trip to see Valerie Hegarty’s body of work, Gone Viral, at Malin Gallery. The show is personal and relatable touching upon emotional concepts of grief, loss, and the deconstruction of old ways of being. The feeling of death and decay is translated to the viewer through the use of a pastel palette and the delicate melting of calla lilies and irises in Hegarty’s series, The Covid Diaries Series. Postcards, letters, calendars, and appointment dates scrawled on the surface of Covid Mini-Fridge and Covid Refrigerator with Flowers create a voyeuristic experience into the life of the artist over the past three years. The show as a whole is sculptural and painterly, inviting the viewer to experience the scale of the objects as well as reflect on the presence of their explicit and delicate nature.”

Valerie Hegarty, Gone Viral installation views. Photos by Jennifer Dodson.


Les Amis de ART YARD is a week away!

Art Lover and Art Patron level ticket buyers will receive a limited edition silkscreen by ART YARD Artist Vera Tineo based on my painting French Window Dora Maar View with Balcony currently on view at Appétit Bistro Sono the location of our benefit lunch.

Meridith McNeal, French Window Dora Maar View with Balcony, 2021, watercolor on paper, 42x57"

Vera Tineo, After French Window Dora Maar View with Balcony, 2021, limited edition silk screen print (in progress)


Woweee Kazowee! What a week.


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