School Art Program Will Leave Behind Lasting Memory

School Art Program Will Leave Behind Lasting Memory
School Art

SNOW HILL — The Artists in Residence (AIR) program at Snow Hill Middle School (SHMS) is winding down this week but it will leave students a permanent keepsake in the form of a large mosaic that will be showcased in front of the school for years to come.
Local artists Sue Stockman and Bobby Malzone took point on the two-week AIR project this fall. Working with nearly 200 students over that duration, the group assembled a multi-paneled mosaic featuring natural landscapes and unique style. Student insight and imagery factored into the draft of the final product.
“The drawing incorporates a lot of the elements that they had: the sunrise and these diagonal lines and the radiating patterns,” said Stockman.
The mosaic, comprised primarily of tile, has been a great teaching instrument, she continued. Not only has it helped provide students with information about art and style but because all of the materials are recycled there’s a green message as well.
“We try to also talk about the principles and elements of design and the impressive thing about this is we’re using all recycled materials so we talk about sustainability issues and try to bring in some of the environmental impact things that are happening in this area,” Stockman said.
She has also been impressed by how so many students pulled together to work on one project.
“For them to all work together and collaborate, they don’t get the opportunity when they’re sitting at their classroom at their desks doing individual work all day,” she said. “So this is an opportunity for them to get to work with each other.”
Malzone saw a lot of positive lessons in the creation of the mosaic as well.
“There are a lot of metaphors in mosaics. To have something beautiful that was broken but to not discard it, to put it back together,” he said, “to make something beautiful again…it’s putting it all back together with what you have and trying to make something good.”
The architect of the AIR program this year at SHMS was art teacher Deb Passalacqua. Pursuing a grant for the project back in May, Passalacqua said that she was wowed by how quickly the school and Principal Christina Welch got behind the idea. Though she has participated in AIR with other artists or performers before, Passalacqua said that this experience has been especially engaging for students because they were able to participate in the creation of something that will enrich their school for many years to come.
“There are wonderful memories from [past programs] but this one is going to be a permanent installation in the school,” she said. “It’s going to be in the main hallway and so many people are going to be able to enjoy it.”
When asked about the program, many students singled out the hands-on nature of the mosaic assembly as what they enjoyed the most, especially grouting and breaking tiles into useable pieces. Stockman predicted that all of the 175 plus students who worked on the mosaic will feel an “immense sense of pride” whenever they see in installed by the school’s office. Even after the students have left SHMS, if they ever find themselves back in the building and pass the artwork it should trigger something positive in them, she added.
Both Stockman and Malzone have been involved with AIR programs for several years and practicing art far longer. This was a unique project, said Malzone, as it took advantage of so much collaboration between students, faculty and the artists.
“We work as a team … we’re really focused on the design. And we want the kids to have a great experience.” he said. “We want the teacher to have a great experience and we want the product to be beautiful.”