By Rick Pezzullo—
Artwork from students in the Tarrytown and Irvington school districts is on display on an online exhibit in recognition of the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The annual exhibition is sponsored by the New York State Education Department. Students throughout the state are encouraged to submit art that illustrates King’s principles and steps of nonviolence or essays that focus on social justice and nonviolence.
For the last several years, Sleepy Hollow Middle School Art Teacher Andrea Harrison has been guiding her sixth-grade students on submitting entries.
“I teach them the elements of art and how to manipulate them. There is dimension to artwork, and it is a bridge between a personal experience and the world,” Harrison said. “This was something that the kids could do to respond to human division, to respond to the world going on around them.”
Students were grouped together for the project to ensure they fully understood the mission—working together despite their individual backgrounds can result in something beautiful.
The purpose of the project was to ensure that the students understood that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day not only commemorates his birthday, but it also reminds all Americans of his dreams and goals for this nation, It also is an opportunity to learn about the social, political and economic factors that contributed to the Civil Rights Movement.
“I liked that we came up with an idea together. It was a fun project, and I liked that it can influence someone to be a better person,” said Joel Hawkins.
“It helped me learn about teamwork and communication. We brainstormed, and we were able to communicate with one another. It also helped us get to know each other better,” said Sarina Onwe.
In preparation, students watched videos of Dr. King and read his works. They chose quotes that they felt a connection to.
“I wanted my art to have meaning, to match the quote I chose,” said David Martinez. “The quote taught me that if a creative person could make art they certainly can make peace.”
Harrison said the lessons learned during the project are priceless.
“King’s language is so poetic. He was a magnificent speaker,” Harrison said. “Love and peace is delicate. No one should hurt anybody. That’s the beauty in King’s message. It’s all about love, about loving everyone.”
Artwork and essays from students at Sleepy Hollow Middle School and at Main Street School and Dows Lane Elementary School in Irvington can be found at: New York State Office of General Services – Collections.
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