Students continue Gallery at the Wall projects

Telegraph photo by Mathew Plamondon Clearway Art Teacher Jess Zylak (middle) chats with her students Jess Giguere (left) and Amber Heim (right) as they work on their “Together we Rise” projects for Gallery at the Wall. All schools across the district are participating and will be submitting student’s artwork by Feb.1.

NASHUA – As the deadline for students to submit work for the Gallery at the Wall project gets closer, some classes have finished their projects while others are still nose-deep in their work.

This year’s theme – “Together we rise! Weaving the Social and Cultural Fabric of Nashua Through the Celebration of Diversity and Inclusion” – gives art students across the district the opportunity to take their own spin on the theme’s meaning.

Some students have used paint to express their interpretation of the theme. Others have used photography. Some have used colored pencils, and some, a combination of materials.

At Clearway Alternative High School, students have been vigorously working on their projects. Unlike some classes that have different guidelines for the students’ project, such as a color theme or shapes being used, the students at Clearway were able to do whatever they wanted, so long as it included the theme of “Together we Rise!”

“A lot of them struggled with coming up with ideas but I told them they could use the words ‘Together we Rise.’ A lot of students liked using those words to be able to pull their work together,” Clearway art teacher Jess Zylak said, adding that some students “liked using the words ‘stronger together’ or united.”

Zylak said the class “came up with ideas together, and we fed off of each other. They all have their different ideas and what supplies they wanted to use. A lot of them really loved painting,” she said, adding that others prefer oil pastels or colored pencils.

“They had the option to do whatever they wanted. The options were pretty much endless.”

Zylak said about 15 projects will be submitted.

“A lot of them had their own different ideas about what they wanted to represent. It’s interesting that they take their own spin on it. It’s nice,” Zylak said.

Senior Amber Heim was one who chose to incorporate symbolism in her piece. She created a canvas which is painted orange, blue and red to represent flame colors of a fire. At the bottom of the canvas there’s a phoenix, and above the phoenix there are silver figures representing humans.

“I added the people to represent that we all are the same, there’s no need for anyone to hate each other. The phoenix is rising and the only way we can rise is if we rise together, together we rise,” Heim said.

She added, “The way we rise against hate and oppression, we have to rise together. When you’re alone you don’t have anything to fight for, you don’t have a reason to do anything and I know that because I have been there, but it became a thing where I’m not alone. I’ve had friends who are calling wondering where I am if I’m not in school, I have teachers checking in.”

Heim said art has allowed her to be in the moment and let things go. The encouraging environment around her, that was created by Zylak has continued to peak her interest in art.

For 16-year-old Jess Giguere, art has been a way for her to express herself. For her project, she chose to draw a colorful puzzle with blurred lines and shapes that don’t fit in each other perfectly. Across the puzzle it reads, “Together we stand tall but we are stronger united.”

“I thought of doing a puzzle piece because everyone is different,” Giguere said. “The colors of the puzzle pieces are all unique different colors you normally wouldn’t see together. But if you put it together it makes something beautiful.”

Students from schools across the Nashua School District and the Adult Learning Center will be submitting artwork through February 1.

The panels will be on display May 2019 to April 2021, with the opening reception taking place on May 4, 2019 at 2 p.m..

The Gallery at the Wall Committee is still 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/.

Grace Pecci may be contacted at 594-1243 or gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.