Gallery at the Wall: Students prepare submissions for outdoor gallery

Fifth-grader Callen Cullity, 10, in front, and fourth-grader McKenna Folger, 9, work in Julie Luteran’s art classroom at Broad Street Elementary in Nashua. Their artwork follows the theme Together We Rise and will be a part of the Gallery at the Wall.

NASHUA – All across the city, young artists are splattering paint, sketching designs and honing their talents to prepare for the Gallery at the Wall, an outdoor gallery dedicated to celebrating “the heart and soul” of Greater Nashua.

The Gallery at the Wall will be located at Rotary Common Park, Home of the Reflection Garden & Labyrinth, at 315 Main St.

The wall will serve to celebrate the social and cultural diversity in Nashua. The theme for the first year of the wall is, “Together We Rise! Weaving the social and cultural fabric of Nashua through the celebration of diversity and inclusion.”

Students from schools throughout the Nashua School District and the Adult Learning Center will be submitting artwork through Feb. 1, aligning it with the theme“Together we rise.”

On Feb. 4, the Gallery at the Wall Committee and professional artists Madeleine LaRose and Monique Sakellarios will pick the final selection of artwork that will be used for the wall.

A professional photographer will take pictures of the final artwork to develop them into an acrylic painting on panels, which will then be placed on the wall.

The panels will be on display from May 2019 to April 2021. The opening reception is set for 2 p.m. May 4.

While this project is set to bring beauty in diversity to the Rotary Common Park, it still needs funding to be complete. The Gallery at the Wall Committee is looking to raise $4,500 to assist with this project. The money raised will go toward maintenance and upkeep. To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/gallery-at-the-wall or the GoFundMe link can be found at http://www.galleryatthewall.org/contribute/ .

Thousands of dollars in sponsorships not covered by the GoFundMe page are also still needed for T-shirts for student artists as well as individuals who attend the opening, and for consistent signage. Those who are interested in funding for either of those categories can contact Sy Mahfuz at symahfuz@gmail.com.

Young artists throughout the city are working hard to creatively represent the theme of Together We Rise. The artwork may vary, and the submission criteria allows for two-dimensional drawings, paintings, photography, mixed media collages and printmaking.

District art teachers are taking a variety of approaches. Joyce Brito, an art teacher at Fairgrounds Elementary, said students in each grade at the school will be doing different projects, but, she is exploring diversity and inclusion with her students through literacy and discussions.

“We are generating different ideas of how we can relate to the book we are reading,” Brito said.

One book her students have read is Just like Me, a story written from the perspective of a girl with a skin disorder. Brito said she and her students have discussed how they can make connections with others who they might initially see as being different from them.

“Tolerance, inclusion, empathy, diversity and also community is what I’m focusing on, but for young ones, those are big words,” Brito said. “We talk about different places we go and experiences we have. I have brought up anecdotal stories to have my students understand that people can feel left out or excluded but we can change that.”

Meghan Durden, an art teacher at Charlotte Avenue Elementary School and the teacher who is overseeing the artwork submissions, is also reading books about inclusion with her students.

Some of the books she has been reading with her students are: If you Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson, The Skin you Live in by Michael J. Tyler and Molly Lou Melon books.

“Now more than any other time, we really need these types of things to be talked about in the schools and celebrated in the schools and have the kids really understand and create work that has a meaningful purpose,” Durden said.

For Durden and her colleagues, she said Together We Rise is about working together in their community.

“It’s helping each other out. We talked about what community means, our community in our neighborhood, our community in our school, our community in Nashua and to really make them feel like they are part of that and that they have their voices heard through their artwork,” Durden said.

In Julia Luteran’s art classes at Broad Street Elementary School, she is working to teach students to appreciate their uniqueness. She assigned some of her students to draw self-portraits to show how they are different, but then add rainbow hair to remember that they may have something in common with one another.

She told her students, “Everyone is going to be different because we are unique, but I want everyone to use rainbow hair and that will be common thread because we all have something similar about us.”

Luteran told The Telegraph, “They learned that they all have separate ideas and unique styles as artists, but they took great joy in seeing how they all interpreted that notion of rainbow hair.”

Student artists across the district will continue working on their projects until Feb. 1.

Grace Pecci can be reached at 594-1243, or at gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.