East Brunswick middle school artwork on display at Rutgers

Artwork created by Hammarskjold Middle School students is on display at the Rutgers Art Library.

EAST BRUNSWICK – Showcasing various media from observational drawings to abstract designs, 160 pieces of artwork created by Hammarskjold Middle School (HMS) students are now on display at the Rutgers Art Library in New Brunswick.

“The show at the library is a survey of HMS student art. My colleagues and I selected a wide range of pieces we felt reflected the visual arts program at HMS,” art teacher Antonia Germanos said.

More than 145 area residents attended the opening reception on May 1, according to John Perillo, supervisor of Arts Education in the East Brunswick School District. The students’ artwork will be on display through May 30 at the library that is located at 71 Hamilton St., New Brunswick.

“The artwork displayed is truly amazing. It shows the depth and range of our students and their ability to not only find their voice and express themselves, but to take risks and be creative,” Perillo said.

The selected pieces are a compilation of the work the 1,200 students in Hammarskjold created under the tutelage of Lisa Gombas, Anna Deacon and Germanos.

Perillo said students who were in the art classes in the beginning of the year created some of the artwork displayed. The students at HMS do not always take art for a full year. Every student at HMS is required to take art for their sixth and seventh grade years. The students rotate through the art class on a cycle basis.

The opportunity for the gallery showing initially arose during the 2015-16 school year during a causal conversation with Rutgers University Art Librarian Megan Lotts, according to Germanos.

“Speaking collectively for the HMS Visual Arts Department, we are incredibly happy with the way the art at Rutgers University is presented. We are thankful for the university’s support, the East Brunswick Board of Education, and that of the entire community,” Germanos said. “There was a wonderful turnout at our opening reception May 1. We feel honored to be able to teach such thoughtful and creative thinkers.

“It is important to give students the recognition they deserve for their hard work and dedication to self-expression and the creative process. Presenting their work outside the school environment and offering an opening reception is one way to honor them and the process,” Germanos continued. “There is also a strong desire to build bridges between the gaps of primary, secondary and tertiary education.”

Germanos said visual art education is far more than just the end product; it is about the process of developing and strengthening problem solving and creative thinking.

“It is about looking closely, communicating and deeply understanding yourself and the world around us. Possessing these skills helps students prepare and create a future full of possibilities,” she said. “Additionally, the visual arts depict our society and culture. To quote Lyndon Johnson upon his signing of the National Endowment on the Arts into existence, ‘Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision, which guides us as a nation.’ ”

Perillo said giving students the opportunity to express themselves artistically helps complete the whole child.

“The arts are one of the three pillars of the East Brunswick School District: academics, athletics and the arts,” he said. “As former President George W. Bush said, ‘From music and dance to painting and sculpting, the arts allow us to explore new worlds and to view life from another perspective.’ ”

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.

Artwork created by seventh graders from Hammarskjold Middle School is on display at the Rutgers Art Library through May 30.
Artwork created by Hammarskjold Middle School students is on display at the Rutgers Art Library.
Seventh grade students from Hammarskjold Middle School drew pictures of animals' eyes.
Artwork created by Hammarskjold Middle School students is on display at the Rutgers Art Library.
Artwork created by Hammarskjold Middle School students is on display at the Rutgers Art Library.
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