Students in Kim Tamalonis’ art class at Rye Middle School have been hard at work this fall on art for more than art’s sake.
By Annette McLoughlin
Students in Kim Tamalonis’ art class at Rye Middle School have been hard at work this fall on art for more than art’s sake. “At the start of the year, my students and I thought we might exchange an art project with children in a refugee camp.” The students gathered close to 100 pounds of art supplies “from closets, basements, and attics” to send to children at a refugee camp in Jordan, through an organization called Studio Syria, a Seattle-based organization that provides art, crafts, and educational opportunities to Syrians living as refugees in Jordan. Touched by the students’ generous efforts, the employees at the Rye Post Office donated the postage.
From that project grew a more ambitious initiative. “When it became clear that humanitarian aid workers’ energy needed to focus on essential work, I agreed to re-direct our goals,” said Tamalonis. Resolved to come up with a greater undertaking, the class and their teacher put together a fundraising art show and sale that is being held at the Rye Arts Center through December 18.
“I couldn’t have predicted the kids’ extraordinary passion for helping other children,” said their proud teacher.
All of the art in the show is based on their wondrous story in which inhabitants from a faraway planet have to leave their warring planet. They return after a decade to find a peaceful and harmonious home.
Tamalonis described the creative objectives. “Each student developed their own character and planet names, as well as the details that inspired the major events. Then, the sixth graders created artwork that showed the secret workshop of one character in the story. Their art doubles as a game, based on the story. The seventh-grade project focused on creating a hopeful new world. Eighth graders created dolls representing their interpretations of the characters.”
In addition to selling their artwork, 100 students also paid to have their work turned into cover art for gift cards that are being sold at Arcade Books and the Rye Arts Center. Proceeds from the art show benefit a relief organization called Blossom Hill Foundation, which offers grants to organizations that address the current needs of war-afflicted children.
For more information, visit blossomhill-foundation.org and studiosyria.org.