Assemblyman Roy Freiman’s district office in Hillsborough is currently lined with art made from oil on canvas, digital photography, oil pastel, water colors, ink, silk scarf painting, colored pencil and other media.
These works weren’t created by professional artists, however, but rather by students from Hillsborough High School (HHS) and Hillsborough Middle School (HMS).
The small art gallery, which consists of 16 pieces from 15 students, was presented on Dec. 18, in partner with the Hillsborough Township School District Art Recognition Program.
“Right now, in a typical politician’s office, you will see [photos of] the politicians gripping and grinning,” Freiman said to a crowd of students and their families and members of the Hillsborough Board of Education. “[I thought], ‘let’s [find] something better to put up on the walls.’”
This is the first year students’ artwork has been displayed in the office, and Feiman plans to work with other Hillsborough district schools to rotate the art each year.
During the art show, Freiman also announced a new $250 scholarship that will be annually given to two graduating Hillsborough High seniors who are involved in the arts, whether it be visual, performing or digital arts.
“The school will decide, but I didn’t want to put limiters as to what kind of art — because art is art,” he said.
Superintendent of Schools Jorden Schiff said, “For some kids, art defines who they are; it helps us to find who we are. For some of our kids, art becomes a way of life after high school.”
Freiman said the idea of bringing the pieces to his office is “personal” to him, as art is prevalent in his life — his mother was an interior designer, and his daughter is a vocalist.
“Arts are directly tied to academic achievement,” he said, adding that art can assist in fueling innovation and creativity. “Students who are involved in art classes are our highest achieving students. We need to continue to fund and encourage the arts, so that’s why we’re going to continue to display it.”
Hillsborough School Board President Judith Haas agreed, saying that being involved in the arts can help a student become more “well-rounded.”
“Our kids are astounding, they are so talented and multi-talented,” she said. “You want [students] to do many things that are special and that give them enjoyment.”
In recognition for their art, the students were also presented with individual assembly resolutions signed by Craig Coughlin, speaker of the New Jersey Assembly.
Hillsborough Board of Education Supervisor of Visual and Performing Arts Michael Callahan said that teachers from HHS and HMS selected the art for the district office from hundreds of student pieces.
“We’re extremely lucky; we have caring, capable and devoted staff members working with our students,” he said. “The students are lucky to have their supportive parents and a supportive community. [The students] take that guidance and support and create unique art that offers us the opportunity to have a peek through the lens through which the students view the world.”